I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Maternity Leave

A mentor of mine, Wendell Rovenstein- President of Bibles for China, gave an interview on one of my favorite pod casts, Engaging Mission

On more than one occasion I’ve had the privilege of sitting down with Wendell and listening as he shares his passion for bringing Christ to the Chinese people.  I have to admit, I thought I’d know most of his answers to Bryan’s interview questions. Yet I was stunned when he focused so much on family.

He said we need to show up where God is.

God is in the family. Yet how many Christians get so caught up in doing “good” things, even ministry, that our families suffer (sadly without many of us realizing it)?

I’m guilty of this.

I’m guilty of putting my family time on hold so I can respond to one more commenter on my blog, finish a blog post, pray for someone after reading a comment, or something similar.

You see, I don’t view my blog as hobby…or even as a job.

I believe my blog is a ministry. It’s a small ministry, but it’s one God has given me.

I’m honored that you read my posts and share your lives with me.

When I say I’m praying for you, I really mean it.

I spend time with God preparing for my posts and comments. 

I cherish my time with you.

But God is showing me that my focus right now must be centered on my family.

As some of you know, I’ll be having another baby soon. 

Having babies and young children puts me in a different season of life than some of you.

It forces me to prioritize my time more carefully.

As I’ve thought about Wendell’s interview, I’ve realized that I’m guilty of trying to get God to be where MY focus is instead of me showing up where He is.

I was told by 3 doctors I’d never have my first son. 

Now God is blessing me with another one.

Family is where God is working right now!

And that’s where my focus needs to be.

As I’ve prayed about this God has lead me to Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2:11)

Hannah longed for a child.

Years went by without her prayers being answered. 

God used this time to cultivate her heart. It was during this long wait that she came to a place where she could give her child back to God…if only He would give her a son.

And so, when Hannah’s heart was ready, God gave her Samuel.

Hannah had approximately 3 short years with Samuel before she gave him to Eli the priest (In Bible times that’s the approximate length of time women nursed their children). 

She had 3 years to speak into his life. 

3 years so show him her love.

3 years to tell him about God.

3 years to make memories that would last her (and him) a life time. 

3 years and then she fulfilled her promise to God. 

Those 3 years were pivotal. It gave Samuel his foundation for growing into adulthood.

This has caused me to ponder: If I knew I only had 3 years with my kids, would my parenting be different? (click to tweet)

The answer is yes.

Yes, my parenting would be different because my focus would more sharply be placed on my children. I wouldn’t allow so many distractions to take me away from them. I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff (like neatly folded laundry, toys being picked up, my kid throwing a fit at the store and embarrassing me).

This is why I’m taking “Maternity” leave from blogging.

It’s hard for me to step away from blogging. As I said, it’s a ministry. I love spending time with you. You all bless me so much. But at the moment I need to focus more on my family.

I’m not sure when I’ll be off “Maternity” leave.

I could be back in a few months or possibly not until fall. 

I’m just going to take it a day at a time and let God direct my focus.

I do plan on returning. And you might occasionally see me reading your posts and commenting.
I will still be checking my email, so please feel free to email me. 

I’m not dropping off the face of the earth—I’m just taking a step back from writing. 

Until I return: Please enjoy some of my older posts and be blessed. 

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you…(James 4:8)

Finally, where is your focus?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

BEWARE: Increasing Persecution of Jews & Christians

I had no intention of posting something other than Barb Raveling’s Book Review this week (If you didn’t read it, I HIGHLY encourage you to. I can’t recommend her book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, highly enough) but world events this year are bothering me.

While you’ve probably heard about the terrorist acts in Paris and are even are aware that things are NOT going well in the Ukraine (despite the recent “peace” agreement Putin promised) you might not be aware of all the ANTI-SEMITISM and PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS that is occurring around the globe!

To be honest, there’s too much to even try to share with you. 

But here are a few headlines that have captured my attention and are breaking my heart:

1.       Man walked around Paris for 10 hours as a “Jew” and was shocked by the ANTI-SEMITISM thrown his way by strangers.  This shouldn’t be a surprise since Jew’s have been leaving France and moving to Israel in HIGH numbers due to the persecution they’re facing. This is occurring in other European Countries as well. Many Jews in England don’t feel safe.

3.       For the past few years, Jews in the U.S. have faced an increasing number of ANTI-SEMITIC vandalism on their homes, cars, and places of worship. Here’s just a recent example.  

4.       You’re probably aware that 21 Christians were recently beheaded.  While the Pope is able to make strong remarks regarding it and Egypt has retaliated, the White House has refused to acknowledge that the act of terrorism was carried out against CHRISTIANS.  This, along with other actions by the White House, has left many countries wondering who the U.S. supports and who they are truly against. Our alleys question our loyalty and our enemies feel bolstered by our actions and comments.

5.       Kayla Mueller, an American Aid Worker, was recently executed by the Islamic State after being held captive since 2013. Her family released an emotional letter about her faith in God shortly after her death. The U.S. government has yet to respond, except to assure everyone that we WON’T send in ground troops regardless of what happens. Prior to this event, a Jordanian Pilot was burned to death. This was met by Jordan hanging two prisoners.

6.       Atheists in the U.S. are making advances in keeping religion out of schools, businesses, and basically everywhere. Here’s one example.

Persecution of JEWS and CHRISTIANS is increasing.  In any nation you can find more than a few examples.

Seems like we are fast approaching The Precipice I fictionally wrote about—a time when life as we know it is over.

Brothers and Sisters, I pray you will get serious in your faith (purchasing Barb’s book is a great step in the right direction).

If you can’t stand now, when it’s relatively “easy”, how will you stand when it’s not?

It’s time to shake off the sins that so easily ensnare you. The greed, pride, lust, materialism, entitlement, criticism, and so on that holds you back.

It’s time to get your foundation secure—the winds are howling.

Are you ready?

Do you know how to get ready…know God. Learn His love. Rest in His grace. Let go of the things in this world. Hold fast to your faith. Don’t let possessions possess you.

Times are changing.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Renewing of the Mind Project BOOK REVIEW

I’m so excited to share with you Barb Raveling’s new book, TheRenewing of the Mind Project: Going to God for Help with Habits, Goals, andEmotions. 

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Barb has quickly become one of my FAVORITE Christian Authors and I’m thrilled she has published this book. It has the power to transform your walk with Christ by showing you how to Biblically Renew your Mind in the Word of God.

Seems to me there are three major groups of Christians: 

1.        One’s who rest so much on GRACE they ignore the need to root sin out of their lives. In fact, they think that if they have to “work” on anything they are not honoring the mercy of God.

2.       One’s who place too much emphasis on WORKS and thereby undervalue the precious blood of the Lamb and the grace freely given to all how call upon the name of the Lord.

3.       One’s who either don’t want to do the work it takes to grow closer to Christ or they don’t know how to so they ignore or downplay their sins. 

Barb Biblically shows readers the need for the combination of both GRACE and WORKS and she provides the tools necessary to break the bonds holding you back from a deeper relationship with God.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 NIV, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

But HOW do we renew our minds? We can’t do it in our own power. So how do we apply this Scripture to our lives?

Excellent question!

In The Renewing of the Mind Project you’ll learn how God intends for Christians to address all sorts of weaknesses of the flesh. From emotional strongholds that prevent us from walking in the Spirit to breaking bad habits (sins) and to forming new habits (daily devotional), Barb covers it all. 

This book is meant to be used with your Bible and a Journal. 

It’s a book that can be used over and over and over again.

I’m currently using it to help me break the habit of being discontent and forming an attitude of praise in all circumstances just as Paul says to do in Phil 4:11-13. Memorizing this passage of Scripture isn’t enough to ensure that I know how to be content in all situations. I must learn to RENEW MY MIND. 

By using Barb’s questions I see how my point of view and feelings are sometimes contrary to the Word of God. Her questions have helped me identify patterns in my life where I’m holding back from God and holding onto things that are preventing me from praising Him.  She’s helping me gain a Kingdom world View instead of a ME-centered world view. 

Her book also teaches how to dig into the root causes of  sins/strongholds. 

I’m learning my discontentment is connected to my need to be perfect. And when I’m not ‘perfect’ I tend to feel frustrated. I worry about what others think and I don’t want to let them down. I feel insecure and try to cover it up by performing to the best of MY abilities instead of focusing on what God wants of me and finding my value in who He says I am.  

All this is connected to my pride. When I perform well, without realizing it, I am taking credit away from God because I think I did it! And when I fail, I tend to shrink back from God instead of seeking His face. 

Her book has helped me with all this.

I know it can help you too…if you’ll just give it a try.

I really can’t recommend this book highly enough.

If I could purchase a copy for all of my followers (and everyone I know) I would. But since I can’t afford too, you can pick up your own copy by clicking here.

Here are ways you can follow Barb:

Bio:  Barb is the author of four books, including Taste for Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study. She blogs about breaking free from habits and strongholds at barbraveling.com. After homeschooling their four kids for the last 22 years, Barb and her husband are now enjoying the empty nest life in their clean (but far too quiet) home.
Disclaimer: I did not have to give a raving review. I am a proud supporter of Barb's books and happily wrote this review. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Are You Like Peter?

Following up on my post, Are You Like Judas, I’d like to ask, Are You Like Peter?

Peter and Judas shared many of the same experiences with Jesus. They both walked with Him, talked with Him, prayed with Him, learned from Him, watched His power flow in both healing and grace…in short, they both were followers of Christ.

Yet they handled their mistakes in two completely different ways.

As previously discussed Judas handled his sin as many people do—he sought human solutions instead of God’s grace.  When he couldn’t correct his mistake, when his guilt wasn’t eased, he again reacted as many Christians do—he sought relief outside of God.

Peter, however, is the example Christians SHOULD follow.

You remember the story; Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Him three times (Mark 14:27-31). 

Despite this warning, Peter is seen shortly later sleeping in the garden while Jesus prays. 

Again, Jesus tries to tell him and the others to WATCH and PRAY because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). 

But Peter couldn’t stay awake.

He didn’t take Jesus’ warnings as seriously as he should.

He didn’t prepare his flesh by being alert to temptations and praying.

So when Christ was arrested, Peter wasn’t ready. 

Even though his spirit wanted to follow Christ until death, his flesh took the easier route and he ended up denying he knew his Lord three times…just as Jesus predicted.

When Peter realized his mistake/sin, he wept. (Mark 14:66-72).

He couldn’t believe what he’d done.

You’d think that after the first two times of telling people he didn’t know who they were talking about and that he wasn’t a follower of Jesus that he would have remembered Christ warning and changed course.

But he didn’t.

He was human.

Just like you and me.

And like all of us, when we do something wrong, we feel bad. 

But here’s where we have the choice of being like Judas or Peter.

Judas tried as hard as he humanly could to correct his mistake of betraying Jesus…but he failed.

Peter however couldn’t wait to get back to Jesus. 

God knew Peters heart. He knew Peter was feeling bad and needing reassurance that he was forgiven.
In Mark 16:7 an angel instructs the women to not only tell the disciples, but specifically Peter, that Christ is raised and will meet them soon.

In John 21:1-19 we see their encounter.

Jesus stands on the shore line as the disciple’s fish. When they realize who He is Peter doesn’t hide below deck, too ashamed of his betrayal to see Jesus. No, Peter jumps in the water, swimming to shore. He couldn’t wait for the boat to get to Christ. He NEEDED to restore his relationship with his Savior. He needed to repent. 

Jesus doesn’t berate him; He puts Peter to work hauling in the fish. Then Jesus feeds His followers. He provides for Peter’s physical need at that moment.

Next, Jesus addresses Peter’s heart by asking him three times if he loved Him.

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter.

Do you love me?” Jesus asks us.

If our answer is like Peter’s, YES, then pay attention to what Jesus says next.


Jesus gave Peter a job to do—feed and tend His sheep.

God has a job for you to do as well.

So if you love Him, accept His forgiveness, let go of the past mistakes, and GET TO WORK!

The past will chain you down and keep you ineffective in serving Christ. That’s where satan wants you.

So he will try hard to tie you up with the guilt and shame of your sin. He will entice you to try to fix the problem using human solutions. This is what happened with Judas.

It doesn’t have to happen to you.

You can choose to run TOWARD the Savior. Admit you’ve messed up. Accept His forgiveness and then be about His business (1John 1:9).

Let the past go.

Move forward (Phil 3:13-14).

There’s work to be done for the Kingdom, but first you must address your sin.

So I ask you: Will you respond to your sin like Judas or Peter?