Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

What to do When it Feels Like the World is Falling Apart

Okay. So.

I had a post ready for today. It is thoughts on our summer bible reading of Ephesians 5. I can’t post that today.

My heart is heavy.

I can’t post that when planes are shot down. When Hamas is raging war against Israel. When ISIS is persecuting Christians, forcing them from their homeland they have had for the past 2000 years. When girls are kidnapped from schools. When children are dying to cross the border. When war rages in Ukraine.

That’s heavy stuff.

So. What’s a girl to do when it feels like the world is falling apart?

When the chaos of the world crushes my heart.

When injustice reins and hope has been drowned out.

When I feel helpless and hopeless.

When I sit safe at home.

When there is nothing I can do but Tweet information and support for fellow Christians being killed for our faith.

When governments, the U.N. turn a blind eye.

When hashtags don’t help.

When evil runs wild, and good is hard see.

My heart needs protection. I desperately need it.

Ephesians6

Source: unlockingthebible.org

I need to put on the Armor of God, as Paul instructs us to do in Ephesians 6.

[10] A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. [11] Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. [12] For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

[13] Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. [14] Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. [15] For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. [16] In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. [17] Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

[18] Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:10-18

Today, I will ‘put on all of God’s armor’.

Today, I will ‘pray for all believers everywhere’.

Today, I will ‘hold up my shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil’.

Today, I will ‘take the sword of the Spirit’ and ‘stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

When Christians Judge Us.

Everyone judges, it’s one of the many down-sides of human nature. Christians are not immune to passing judgement, nor being judged. What about those in a leadership role within the Church? Are they leading the charge?

Recently two teenage girls I know attended church services with a female relative. The girls were told their summer sundresses were “not appropriate for church”. They were asked to cover up or go home.

The girls chose to go home. (And, for the record, the sundresses were not revealing.)

The church member who asked them to leave missed a golden opportunity to deliver a message if grace. Instead they sent a stronger message of nonacceptance. They said, “You’re not good enough to be here. You don’t belong.”

I read somewhere that the number one reason ‘people of faith’ say they don’t “believe in organized religion” or don’t attend church on a regular basis is simply one word: HYPOCRISY.

It’s the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality that turns them away from the church.

Paul wrote in his letter in Ephesians 4:

(11) Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the Church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. (12) Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church. (13) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in The Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

(14) Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever it sounds like the truth.

(15) Instead, we will speak the truth in love growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does it’s own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Thanks for laying it all out there, Paul.

Does the church have all the answers, all the time? I don’t think so.

Aren’t we all “like immature children”? Yes.

Then isn’t the church made up of imperfect people who are still growing in Christ? Absolutely.

In Ephesians 4:2, Paul is yelling at me, “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

Nobody is perfect.

As Christians, we can’t afford to judge others. It’s not our job. It’s not our right. It’s not in our power.

What do we do when Christians disappoint us? Show grace.

Show grace because they are still growing in faith too. They are on their own faith-walk and imperfect, as we are.

LINKING UP | Holley Gerth Coffee for your Heart

Encouragement for Today.

Do you ever feel like the internet is full of negativity with people just looking for a fight? 

Name calling, misunderstood comments, yelling IN ALL.CAPS.Oh.my.gosh. (There really shouldn’t be a caps lock button on a keyboard.)

That’s why I love Twitter. You can’t comment directly on a tweet. You can either, ‘favorite’ it, or retweet it. That’s it.

In the middle of all the negativity and fighting…there are people in the blogashere committed to the encouragement of others.

There ARE people spreading compassion for humanity and the love of Christ with every tweet. At the very least, their tweets will make you smile, or nod in agreement.

And, to prove it, here are some of my favorite tweets from the last few weeks.

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something sometime in your life.” Winston Churchill @AQuotePage

“God loves us. We must not be afraid to love him.” Pope Francis @Unknown

“The first principle of success is desire – knowing what you want. Desire is the planting of your seeds.” Robert Collier @BoatingBonnieC

“If the girl says, ‘I hate drama’, there is a 99% chance she is a huge drama queen.” @JulienneTiarks

“Common sense is not so common.” Voltaire @WordsOfHumans

“Your life is only as chaotic as you allow it to become.” @LindseyBBridges

“Some people are easier to love when you don’t have to be around them.” Irvine Welsh @AQuotesPage

“Expect that your friends talk about you in the same way they do about everyone else in their lives.” @incourage

“Your words matter.” @JeffGoins

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.” @EpicWomen

I am going to call them my Small Seeds Tribe.

I tweet encouragement @got2havefaithco too.

Party Like it’s 1776…Free Patriotic Printable

free printable

Free printable of the above is available here. (Right click the jpg to save to your desktop, then print.) The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is a federal holiday in America that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of the Independence on July 4th, 1776. Let’s party and set off some fireworks!

To all the service men and women who have served to protect this great nation, and the people of nations who cannot fight for themselves…thank you! We are blessed to live in this great country.

“Thank You” are two simple little words. Almost too simple. It’s an understatement that conveys gratitude to the people who have fought for this country. The ones who lost their lives to protect ours. America is a country of undying hope, an unbridled spirit, at times feverish differences, and a patriotic heart that bleeds red, white and blue.

And, to say we are blessed is also an understatement. We are blessed for a reason. Let us not forget that with great freedom and blessings comes greater responsibilities. Let us not take our freedom for granted. Let us not fight among ourselves and lose sight of what makes this country great. Let us use our advantage to help the disadvantaged. Let us not forget the price that we have paid for that freedom.

“Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.” Thomas Jefferson

Top 10 Countries For the Persecution of Christians

According to Open Doors World Watch List*, 100 million Believers in Jesus Christ have been persecuted for their faith.

In America, we take religious freedom for granted. We totally do.

Imagine being a Christian but not having a Bible to study the Word of God.

Imagine not having the freedom to walk with your God.

Imagine living in fear of being persecuted for believing differently than the government tells you to believe.

Imagine being beaten, whipped, stoned to death, thrown in jail, or executed for believing in the one true God.

Yet, this is the reality for Christian believers around the world. The top 10 offending nations are in Asia where Christians and missionaries face persecution every day. It’s their way of life.

They risk their life for Christ. Daily.

Can you imagine that? I can’t, because I have never had to live it. Our family owns 6 Bibles. Six.

top-10-persecution-2013

**Gospel For Asia

Without a Bible, Christians in these countries find it hard to study the Word, walk in the Word, and live in the Word. Their faith-walk is limited.

gospel-for-asia-bibles

**Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia is helping to change all that. A donation to GFA will give bibles to missionaries to share with believers in Christ and give necessary tools to teach the Word. A donation of $3 buys one Bible, $96 buys 32 Bibles.

Won’t you join me in sharing the Good News with those who have never heard of God’s great love? Learn more about GFA bringing the Gospel to South Asia and donate here.

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I am a Gospel for Asia Blogger. I do not get paid for my posts. GFA is a Small Seed. *Source: Open Doors World Watch List 2013. **Top 10 Stats source: Gospel for Asia.

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LINKING UP | Make a Difference Mondays at She Lives Free.

The wonderful Holley Gerth Coffee for Your Heart. Find encouraging words from wonderful ladies there on Wednesday.

AND, with Faith Barista WhiteSpace on Friday.

Lost | Five Minute Friday

Not all who wander quote

Lost.

We always talk about what we’ve lost.

Lost our car keys.

Lost our cell phone.

Lost our kid in the store.

Lost a loved one.

Lost our memory.

Lost our way on a trip…or in life.

But what about what we have here and now?

Spare keys.

Land line.

Our kids hiding.

Memories shared.

Photos to remind us when we can’t remember.

A way back.

I once was lost but now I am found.

Lost and found.

You can’t have one without the other.

5minutefriday LINKING UP | 5 Minute Fridays with Lisa Jo Baker. Inhale. Exhale. Clear the mind. Get the Prompt. Write for 5 Minutes. Head over there to participate and/or find encouraging women writing for 5 minutes.

Kids Growing Small Seeds, Doing Good

Your Calling

My late father-in-law always said, “Never plant seeds before Mother’s Day.” And, since he was the king of growing pole beans, I listened.

Oh, how I miss his home-grown green beans!

His theory of the perfect time to plant seeds was rooted in the idea that there was no longer danger of frost after Mother’s Day. Anyone who has ever planted seeds only to have the small plants that grew destroyed by a spring snow storm knows this…there is really no “perfect” time to plant.

You can only use information you have at hand and do your best. And, if your crop gets wiped out you start again. He learned that a few times as well.

Just like there is not perfect time to plant a garden, there is also no perfect time to start living your dream, doing your calling. There are a lot of things in your life that could threaten your crop, but you can’t let that stop you. You plant your small seeds anyway. All you can do is one small thing at a time. Then another small thing, and another, and another. Before long you will be growing in faith and compassion, and seeing the fruits of your labor.

That is the idea behind Small Seeds. Plant small seeds and watch it grow into something big.

small seeds CORRECTED

June’s edition of individuals planting Small Seeds is all about kids doing good. And, if kids can plant a Small Seed, so can you!

Emma Brun | Emma is raising money for Chicago’s homeless. She is 10 years-old. She is currently actioning off one of her American Girl Dolls in the hopes to raise money to buy basic necessaries like blankets, pillows and water bottles for Chicago’s needy. Donations start at only $5. Keep planting your Small Seeds, Emma!

Rudy Hummel | Rudy slept outside for 365 days to raise funds for Habit for Humanity and the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. He raised over $4,000 for his charities, even sleeping outside in Minnesota’s brutal winter. His fundraising website is Snore Outdoors and he is still planting seeds.

Rachel Wheeler | At 9-years-old, Rachel pledged to build homes for Haiti’s poorest. With the help of her mother and a Facebook page, Rachel raised over $250,000 in three years. Today, she is 14-years-old and hasn’t stopped building. She also has partnered with Food for the Poor to raise more money for houses and a school. I remember hearing this story in 2011 on NBC News and have never forgot it. I had to find out what Rachel was up to since then. She is truly a Small Seed that has grown a garden.

Never Too Big To Be a Small Seed | Jon Bon Jovi, aka one of the biggest rock stars in the world, surprises a 10-year-old boy with cancer. Mario Carpino was diagnosed with brain tumors at 4-years-old. Mario organizes an annual lemonade stand in New Jersey to raise money for other kids with cancer. Jon Bon Jovi surprised him by stopping by to get a cup of lemonade and spending an hour with Mario. This is Mario’s 4th year of running the lemonade stand…one he will never forget! Mario holds the fundraiser in partnership with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Oh, and Mario has raised over $200,000 in the past 4 years. Turning lemons into lemonade, people.

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LINKING UP with the wonderful Holley Gerth Coffee for your Heart. Find encouraging words from wonderful ladies there today.

LINKING UP with Faith Barista (Friday) WhiteSpace. And, she wrote a new book. She rocks!

*Thank you to Today Show, She Lives Free and  NBC Nightly News for these inspiring stories. **Background photo above by StockVault.

Leap of Faith | Ephesians 3

My One Word for 2014 is Leap. It’s all about leaping to find my writing voice in the blog. Leap and trust His plan. Leap and plant Small Seeds.

Have the guts to leap.

I have been refocusing on that word lately. This week’s Bible study of Ephesians 3 screams of leaping.

At times I feel a lot like Paul who confessed he felt he was “…writing about things that are way over my head…” (Ephesians 3:11-12 MSG)

Do you ever feel that way? To have an idea but feel completely unprepared and overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do next? In situations like this, you have one of two choices. You can do nothing, which will get you nowhere closer to your dream, or you can take a leap of faith and do something. Anything.

“When we trust in him, we’re FREE to say whatever needs to be said, BOLD to go whatever we need to go.” (Emphasis in all caps are mine.) Ephesians 3:11-12 MSG

And then I think of Dr. Phil. He often says, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Weird, I know. But, Dr. Phil, like Paul, was on to something big.

Here we are in Ephesians, a letter written by Paul. Paul was once Saul, the go-to Christian persecutor of his day. Like us, Paul didn’t know what he didn’t know. God used him in a way he never thought possible. I think, at times, Paul even has trouble believing it himself.

God turned a persecutor into a crusader. (Galatians 1:13)

In his own words, Paul felt he was over his head when speaking about Christ. But, get this, Paul took a leap of faith. He leaped with his heart. He leaped and trusted God. He spoke, even if he didn’t know it all, yet. He said what he needed to say anyway.

He spoke FREE and BOLD.

“God can do anything, you know — far more than you could ever image or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Ephesians 3:20 MSG

I guess Paul knew more than he thought…

This Sunday my prayer for you, the one on the verge of taking a leap of faith, in the words of Paul, is this:

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 MSG

Amen.

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LINKING UP | at MyFreshlyBrewedLife. 

There is a Risk in Speaking from Your Heart

Negative Committee

Dear friend,

To the one who hasn’t sat quietly by while letting others dictate what you should think, or feel.

To the one who is feeling persecuted for letting your opinions be known.

To the one who has been attacked for having the courage to speak up, let your voice be heard.

To the one who has written from your heart only to be crushed by others response to those words.

To the one who is second guessing your voice, wondering if it would have been better, easier if you just sat down and shut up.

Those negative words in your head? That’s the enemy talking. He is the chairman of the negative committee. We all know he likes to talk, never a kind word.

Guess what? Not everyone will agree with what you have to say. Not everyone will like what your heart begs you to say. Say it anyway. Those negative, crushing words from others say more about them than it does about you.

There is a risk in writing from the heart, letting your voice be heard. The risk of having your feelings hurt is great. Whoever said “sticks and stones break my bones but words will never hurt me” had never been hurt by words, or found the secret to ignoring the hurtful words.

Who cannot let words hurt, even just a little? I don’t know the secret of not letting words hurt. I won’t sugar-coat it. Some days it can be a struggle.

But, I do know this: It takes courage to speak your voice. It takes a leap of faith to write from your heart what needs to be written. It takes a will greater than the negative voices to continue on.

Let your heart be known. Let your voice be heard. There is risk. How else will anyone really know you? The risk maybe great, but the reward will be greater.

So, my friend, stand up, dust off those negative words, and listen to this. No matter what the negative committee says, YOUR words matter. YOUR heart matters. YOUR voice matters. Who are they to say it doesn’t?

Let them alone with their hateful words. You have more important things to do. You are leaping.

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Holley-Gerth

LINKING UP with the wonderful Holley Gerth. Find encouraging words from wonderful ladies there today.

LINKING UP with Faith Barista (Friday) WhiteSpace. Bonnie has a great giveaway too! And, she wrote a new book. She rocks!

Sunday Word | Ephesians 2:1-13

A few years ago I bought a new Bible. It was a One Year Bible. The intent was to read the entire book from beginning to end in one year. Well, as you know, the Bible not a light read.

So, I am still working my way through it. This summer I am participating in a Bible study of Ephesians at Women Who Believe. This book is “new” to me, meaning I haven’t checked off of my list as being read. Not since reading Ecclesiastes have I been so inspired by His Word and want to soak it all it. Let it wash over me.

Last Sunday I talked about Ephesians 2:8, but let’s back up a bit and look at verses 1-13.

Ephesians is the letter from Paul to the believers in Ephesus. The words he wrote to Ephesus still ring true for us today.

As you read these words, imagine this as a letter from Paul to you.

ephesians 2

Ephesians 2:1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.

*Emphasis on text is mine.

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