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P a s s a g e s F o r e v e r

~Touching Lives One Passage at a Time~

Blog Archives

Blog Archives

Welcome to our blog!   It's my prayer that you will be encouraged and lifted up by every post, that you will feel led to encourage and disciple others, and that it will be a place for sharing and inspiring each other in our journey of life as Christ followers.  God bless you!

Love,
Victoria


There are three categories of posts:


1) Monthly Devotional Reviews - this post will support our monthly review of the 3 devotions we study on our weekly calendar every month (http://www.passagesforever.com/devotional-calendar).

2) Online Bible Study - this was created for my bible study ladies who meet every week at our beautiful church.  However, anyone is welcome to join us who loves God's Word and is interested in studying with us (http://www.passagesforever.com/online-bible-study).

3) Special Occasions - this category will contain special posts that you might contribute, or special posts during a holiday which might be written to celebrate, remember or honor someone special.  


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Happy Mother's Day to beautiful you!

Posted on November 7, 2016 at 9:05 PM

Happy Mother's Day!

by Victoria

May 8, 2016


I didn't write "The Invisible Mom", but every Mother's Day I send it to my friends to remind them of how valued they are in God's eyes for the priceless job of being a mom. It's worth the read ladies! It will bless you! Warning: Get the tissues :)

The Invisible Mom

(Author Unknown)

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.


 

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more. "Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?" Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.' I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

 

One night, a group of us were having dinner,celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'


 

 

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'


 

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

 

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me,

'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

 

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.


 

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

 

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.


 

GREAT JOB MOM!!!

You have the most important job in the world, ordained by God. He will never leave you or forsake you. In His strength, all things are possible, and in His eyes, you are never invisible!

Love,

Victoria


 

 

 

 

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March-Telling the Greatest Story Ever Told

Posted on March 31, 2016 at 11:40 PM
~ The stones are still crying out! ~


Hello Friends,

 

Our theme during the month of March was about the foundation of our faith, the core of Christianity - the death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. So it is worth mentioning again and again, even beyond our Easter services and celebrations. We should always remember why we believe and the basis for our our faith. The more we celebrate it, the more inclined we might be to pass it on. Easter is a special time for Christians around the world as we remember and celebrate the most magnificent event in all of mankind's history.

 

Unfortunately, not all of mankind celebrates it. Jesus death and resurrection was God's plan for the redemption of all of mankind, no exceptions. And yet, while many have heard about Jesus and his death on the cross, not all have truly grasped and embraced the truth and the amazing love behind it. This often saddens me and perplexes me at the same time. I can only imagine how deeply grieved our Father is over it.


 

Telling the Greatest Story Ever Told


 

If you're like me, you may take it for granted at times that many have heard about Jesus (right here at home in the free world). But I am now challenging myself to be ready to tell the story to a non-believer in a compelling way that they may not have heard it (or seen it) before, and I hope you will consider joining me. As I continue to work on this, I thought about a couple of the details in scripture that don't often get as much attention as the crucifixion and resurrection, but have their own "shock and awe" factor .

 

For example, during the aftermath that occurred when Jesus took His last breath on the cross, there were several supernatural events, like the tearing of the temple curtain (the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50-51a). Another event with similar shock and awe was a great earthquake (The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open-Matthew 27:51-52)". It was as if even the Earth knew who He was and could not stand to be part of His suffering as his precious blood fell to the ground. Jesus had said in Luke 19:40, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out”, and that they did when He died on the cross. Even the centurion saw His omnipotence when the ground shook as He died. Even one of the thieves on the cross sensed His divinity.

 

Our God is so mighty and sovereign that even non-believers can recognize Him. He is so worthy of our trust, praise and our bragging and deserving of all glory. No matter our circumstances, let's remember who He is. Let's choose to trust Him and sing praises to His mighty name always...and yes, we have bragging rights...or the stones will cry out. If non-believers witnessed a bragging believer in the midst of their storms, I think we will get their attention, don't you? When I see the intensity and frequency of the earthquakes occurring today, I often think of what Jesus said back in Luke 19:40, and I wonder...is our society so secular and indifferent to our God , that even the stones have to cry out?

Another compelling detail I have added to my repertoire of the "Greatest Story Ever Told", is the ascension of our Lord. While often overshadowed by the resurrection, it was equally important and significant an act of love and sacrifice as the crucifixion. It is the perfect demonstration of humility, in that our glorious risen Savior, though He was about to literally ascend through the clouds to sit at the Father's right hand, He did so with emphasis on His people instead of Himself.

 

Just before He ascended, He spoke commands and promises that demonstrated not only His authority but also His love and caring for us. He commanded His disciples to go into all the nations and be His witnesses to share His love with the world. He promised He would equip us with power to do this by sending us a Counselor, the Holy Spirit. He also promised that He was going to prepare a place for us, so that where He would be, we would be also. When the disciples asked Him if He would now restore the kingdom to Israel, He responded by commissioning them to be His witnesses (the Great Commission).

 

Even as He's about to reunite with the Father in perfect glory and with all authority over heaven and earth, Jesus continues to be a giving and sacrificial Christ. He doesn't act like one above all heaven and earth in a manner the world may expect of one of such power and glory. One who just rose from the dead! Instead, He spoke only of his children and those yet to join God's family, and what He wanted to do for us and for them...He still focused on the ultimate work at hand...to bring all mankind to salvation before His glorious return through those heavenly clouds once more! So when I ask myself, "what would Jesus do", I want to remember this humble King of glory who cares more about the unsaved than His perfect heavenly home from which He will rule and reign forever. I want to model His example as part of my compelling story.

Finally, I have the ultimate wrap on this great story. The death, bodily resurrection and literal ascension of Jesus Christ is the core of the Christian faith. It is by His grace and sacrificial death alone that our sins are forgiven, and nothing less, nothing more. Adding anything to His work on the cross would cheapen the extreme sacrifice Jesus made at Calvary for us. It is His bodily resurrection that conquered death and gives us assurance of life beyond the grave. It is His literal ascension into heaven that illustrates the promise of our physical eternal home in our Father's house. Because of Christ Jesus we have a new birth, where our old nature no longer has power over us, and we are a new creation cleansed by His shed blood. We can now be adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. It is because of Christ and Christ alone, if we accept His death as payment for our sins, that we will die once and live forever!

 

As if that's not enough, thanks be to God the Father we do not have to wait until the next life to enjoy the life Jesus died to give us. Our eternal life begins right now here on earth. While this life is still subject to the fallen nature of mankind until our Lord returns to complete our redemption ("look up...your redemption draws near"-Luke 21:28), our new birth has already occurred! God didn't send his only precious son to save us so He could tame us! We can live a life that reflects the light of our Lord living in us, dazzling brilliantly and bearing an abundance of fruit! We have nothing to fear! For if He is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). Greater is He who is in us, than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

 

So fear not, but be bold and be brave little flock...because we have the most compelling story ever told, and we know how the story ends. A story that gives us confidence, bravery, peace and unspeakable joy. That my friends, is witness to the Greatest Story Ever Told. Praise God and thank you Jesus. Hallelujah.

Love,
Victoria


February - We Love Because He First Loved Us

Posted on February 28, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Month in Review - February 22, 2016 - by Victoria

WE LOVE BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US

Hello Friends,

February’s theme was "LOVE". It’s a big, very significant, destiny-changing word. So for our review this month, I thought we should take a closer look at love from a scriptural viewpoint with one simple takeaway:

 

How to Love (even the unlovable)

 

As Christ followers, it’s important to understand God’s view on love. Extending love, receiving love and even loving ourselves is not always easy or natural for every person. So what does our Lord, the author of love, have to say about it?

The Great Commandment: Love God first; second, love your neighbor as yourself (1 Corinthians 13:13; Matthew 22:36-40)

 

We all have had relatives, co-workers, neighbors, ex-spouses, and acquaintances who seem to challenge us on following God's “Great Commandment” to "love your neighbors as yourself". We might lean on grace at times as an excuse to not even try, because they just make it so difficult, right? But we know as followers of Christ, it's our duty. Yes, duty. We don't have to have a warm and fuzzy feeling about someone to love them. Love is first a decision, and with God's help is followed by the heart. (But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44). So how do we love? Even those who we perceive as hard to love? The truth is, we can't in our own strength. We must rely on Christ within. What are some of the ways that we can tap into the power of Christ within us?


 

According to Bible Gateway, research has shown that “the key process in training ourselves and others to fulfill the Great Commandment is to grow in scripture engagement. Nothing has a greater impact on spiritual growth than reflection on scripture. A maturing Christian continually grows in love for God and others”.

 

If you think about it, scripture tells us that the Word is God, so if we are to draw closer to God, we must draw closer to scripture. In so doing, we will learn who God is, about His character and about the incredible love He has for us. This is crucially important, because I don't think people - even some believers - truly understand and believe just how much God really and truly loves them - just as they are! No exceptions – the whole world, including those who reject Him! Once someone truly gets it, they can't help but fall madly in love with God. It’s only then that we begin to feel His love as it fills us to overflow! That’s the beauty of the Gospel. This is why He said in all His wisdom, that we must love Him first, and then second, love our neighbors. He knows that we can't truly love on our own without Him, but would need His love living in us to truly love others unconditionally…even those we consider hard to love.


 

So WHAT is Scripture Engagement? I love the way Bible Gateway describes it, so I have posted it here for you:

“It is a way of hearing and reading the Bible with an awareness that it is in the Scriptures that we primarily meet God. It is a marinating, mulling over, reflecting, dwelling on, pondering of the Scriptures, resulting in a “transformative engagement” with God. While all reading of scripture is better than not coming to the bible at all, scripture engagement tries to correct common but inadequate approaches to the Bible. With this approach many stop reading thinking that something is wrong with the Bible or with themselves. With a little training and encouragement, the life-changing nature of the Scriptures can be experienced by anyone”.

 

What about the HOW of Scripture engagement? To engage in scripture, we cannot approach the bible in a casual manner, and read it like just another book. It is far too great and glorious a love letter written for us by the God of the Universe whose wisdom is infinite. Bible Gateway goes on to say, “The Bible itself teaches us how we are to approach God’s Word. Words the Bible uses include “meditate” (Psalm 1:2, Joshua 1:8, “reflect” (2 Timothy 2:7), “look intently” (James 1:25), “dwell” (Colossians 3:16), “ponder” (Psalm 119:95), “consider” (Jeremiah 2:31), and even “eat” (Jeremiah 15:16, Revelation 10:9-11)”.

Here are 7 simple steps to engage with scripture:

 

  1. Regular reading is an obvious start, followed by
  2. Regular study on your own or with a group,
  3. Going deeper through Journaling,
  4. Memorizing the scriptures,
  5. Praying the scriptures,
  6. Singing the scriptures through praise and worship songs,
  7. And last but not least, sharing God's word.

 

There are many tools and resources available from online sources, apps, bookstores and our local churches to help us stay in the word and study the word on a regular basis. Social media has also opened a wonderful gateway for sharing the gospel. At Passages Forever we also aim to provide support and tools to help you on this great journey. The Christian walk is an ongoing journey. We are never so mature that we can't take it to a new level, Amen? It's my hope that this blog will inspire you to get to that next level of love with God and others. Praying for you for deeper scripture engagement. Love you.


 

 

~We Love because He First Loved Us~

Love,

Victoria

January: Goals, dreams, possibilities ~ 3 Things to Remember

Posted on January 31, 2016 at 12:55 AM

Month in Review - January 25, 2016 by Victoria

 

New Year resolutions. We make them and we break them and some we keep, at least for a while. But it really doesn’t matter, because it’s more about what it represents than what it really means. A new year represents a second chance for a new beginning. It represents hope for prayers answered, for goals achieved and for dreams come true. So when we make resolutions it represents our faith stepping into a future of possibilities and an acknowledgement that the past is behind us.

 

Run the Race Well 

 

In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul says: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

Paul sets the example for “new year resolutions”. In this verse, Paul says he leaves what's behind, and "presses on toward the goal to win the prize". Like running a race, he “forgets what is behind” because the mileage already covered is in the past. Previous races, win or lose, were good training for the present and future races, but in the current race in the present moment a runner is always focused on that finish line.

 

Paul sees our earthly journey in a similar fashion, as we learn from the past and press on to what's ahead. Our past helps to shape us from lessons learned, memories lived, trials and triumphs. The past helps us to grow in the present and plan for the future. But if we live in the past we miss the gift of the present and the dreams of the future. Our ultimate goal in life's race, which in turn helps to set all other goals, is to win the prize of knowing Christ more, being more like Him and being in the glory of His presence for all eternity.


How do we "Press on toward the goal to win the prize"?

You may have heard the expression, "you can't keep doing the same things and expect new results". Jesus said basically the same thing in Romans 12:2, where he talks about our new beginning after salvation. By God's love and grace in Christ Jesus, we are saved, period. But because God loves us and wants the best for us, He wants us to experience the ultimate transformation in our daily lives beyond being saved.


Renew our Mind

 

Romans 12:2 tells us “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”.

 

This passage gives us some guidance on how to run race well so that we "press on toward the goal to win the prize". It makes a clear contrast between renewing our minds and conforming to the world. We cannot do both. Once we are saved we are called to renew our minds. This is a journey and requires some work on our part, but the heavy lifting is done by the Holy Spirit. He can help us to work on our thoughts, our perception, and our understanding through study of the scriptures, through prayer and through service and fellowship with our church family. Notice he uses the term "renewing" as in "an ongoing process". God does not expect an overnight success story.

He also tells us what not to do...we are not to conform or follow the ways of the world, as this would be contrary to the ways of God and an obstacle to the "renewing" of our minds. Yes, we are to be salt and light to the world, and we do so by sharing God’s love and compassion as the hands and feet of Jesus. But it doesn't mean we have fellowship with the world or try to “fit in” or conform to their ways. He goes so far as to say that only with a renewed mind, can we truly understand God's will for us. When we understand His will, like a runner understands his coach's leading, then we know how to "press on toward the goal".

 

Whether you were saved yesterday or years ago, a new year gives us an opportunity to reflect on our transformation. We are all unique, and we each have a unique journey. We all mess up and slip up on the way to that glorious finish line. Be kind to yourself and remember that only our heavenly Father knows how to help us "press on". He will lead us, gently strengthen us when we stumble or pick us up when we fall, and you better believe that he is cheering us on all the way to that finish line. We only need to give God our heart and press into Him and He will lead us to press on. As Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". That's God's promise to us...just as He saved us, He will also complete us through our journey of transformation.


How do we renew our mind?

It's worth repeating, that it is the Holy Spirit who imparts what we need to renew our mind. It's by His power that we are transformed and not by our own strength. So what exactly is it that we are supposed to do? We press into God...we pursue Him through His word, through prayer and through community with our church family. We surrender our will to His counsel and His leading by putting Him first in our life. First means first...before even family, and before career and before community. Because when God is first, we (and who we love) are never last.

 

God First

 

We learn in Matthew 6:33 that we must “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.

 

We are surrendered to God's leading when we put Him first in our lives, whatever our circumstances. Unfortunately, we sometimes worry about so many things like our children, our spouses, our finances, our jobs, and the list goes on. So life gets in the way and God is nowhere at the top of the list where He should be. The enemy would love nothing more than to use the troubles of this world to distract us from our relationship with our Father and His perfect will for our lives. This is why Jesus told us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear, because our Father knows what we need.

 

Instead we are to make Him our first priority and He will take care of all our needs. When we put God first, we get busy about His kingdom business. That starts with an intimate relationship with Him through prayer, scripture and serving others. When God is first, we give the Holy Spirit full permission to renew our minds and lead us in our transformation to the likeness of God’s son.

 

Ask God to give you the strength and courage to trust Him with your cares so you can spend your time and energy on Him. The rewards are more than we can ever imagine. When God is first in our lives, our needs will be met above and beyond anything we could have accomplished on our own.


So as you think of your goals, dreams and possibilities this new year, remember these three things: Put God first and He will transform you, helping you to "renew your mind", preparing and equipping you to "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus". Because when God is first, you are never last.

Love,
Victoria

See this month's "War Room" prayer pack giveaway to help you get started on this great journey. God bless you!

 

 



War Room: Session 3

Posted on September 18, 2015 at 11:50 PM

   Session 3: Living the Gospel


Welcome:

Hello Ladies!!! Welcome to Week 3! I hope you ladies had a wonderful week. We missed you last week, but so glad you made the time to catch up with us tonight.

Thank God for technology that we can still meet from the comfort of your home when life gets in the way and you just can't join us at the buiding we call church. But as the Father said, where any two or more meet, He will be there (Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them".) That's called church too ladies! So grab a cup of tea or something nice, get your study guide, a notebook, a pen or highlighter and your bible. Ready? Let's get started!

 

Opening Prayer:

Let's open in prayer. Please bow heads and join us :)

Dear Father,

We thank you so much for this alternative way to meet and study your word with each other. We pray that we will feel your presence and hear your voice through the message in our study guide. We pray that you will guide our conversation as we share our thoughts with each other and strive to honor you as we grow in the Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.


Tips for our online studies:

 

  1. We will use the Comments Section below to type our comments, questions, answers.  You will see some sections labeled "Activity". These sections contain questions for you to answer in the comments section or some other type of instruction.
  2. If you would like privacy, just use your first name versus your full name when you add your comments in the Comments Section.
  3. You might need to refresh your browser to see comments during a live session.
  4. Reflection and sharing in bible study is an important part of our growth and helps to maximize the benefit of the study. However, we understand if you are not comfortable sharing at this point. If that's you, I encourage you to answer the questions anyway, in a notebook/journal or even on your PC in a word doc.

 


Session 3 Description:

Our third session is about gospel power.  The gospel doesn't stop when one becomes saved.  It's a start to our transformation to be more like Christ, and flourish in His kingdom.

We will first review the homework from last week (session 2), then we will review the introduction to session 3. Then, you will complete 3 days (only 3 days!) of homework from this session (session 3) on your own before we meet next week, at which time we will discuss the homework in our group. Sound good? Alright.


Session 2 Homework Review

 

Last week, we had homework on pages 21-29. Let's take some time to discuss.

In the "Engage" section on page 21, some key principles of accountability are discussed with several scripture verses referenced to support these principles.


Activity 1:

Take some time to refresh your memory of these verses now please (page 23).  Then answer the following questions in the Comments Section below.

 

  1. Which verse resonates with you in terms of your own accountability. Why?
  2. Do you struggle with speaking truth or speaking with love or both?
  3. How can you balance both truth and love, when speaking truth might not be easy to speak or hear?

 


From the reading on page 23, and the scripture references there, let's list some key principles of accountability:

I'll get us started: 

  • Accountability is important between believers to stay firm in their faith as Christ followers.
  • Accountability often means difficult conversations but we should speak truth to each other and do so with love.

 

Activity 2:

Now your turn.  Use the scriptures referenced (choose 1 or more) to make 1 or more statements about accountability.

Hebrews 3:13

Proverbs 27:17

James 5:19-20

Galatians 6:1-2

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 

DAY 1: 

Summary - Day 1 talks about the value of accountability


Activity 3:

Describe the value/benefits of the following: 

  1. Confessing your sins before God? (See 1 John 1:8-9)
  2. Sharing our struggles with other believers? (See James 5:16) 

 

We have talked about the benefits of confession.  Let's discuss what happens when we don't confess our sins, and instead, we conceal them.


Activity 4:

What does page 25 say about concealing our sins?  What does that cause?  __________ and __________.

List some of the negative effects of concealing sin.  I'll get us started: 

  • It weakens our prayer life and leaves prayers unheard.  (Psalms 66:18)

 

Day 1 principle: The best picture of Christianity is when we ________________________ so that others can see ___________________.

Please complete the blanks.

Day 1 follow-up activity: Identify who you can ask to be your accountability partner, if you don't already have one.  Ask that person to begin this relationship and discuss how you will go about doing that.


DAY 2: 

Summary - Day 2 talks about Living in Community, and what that looks like.


Activity 5:

 

  1.  Read the passages on page 26 and list some key words that describe the responsibility in relationships.

 

  For example: build up, forgive

2.  What does the bible say about isolation (Proverbs 18:1)

3.  Based on 1 & 2, give a brief statement that describes the value of living in community and the disadvantage of living in isolation.


Activity 6: 

  1. Based on 1 Corinthians 12:25: 
  2. What are some steps you can take to better use your talents and abilities to suffer and to rejoice with one another? 

 

Day 2 principle: Without one another, the body of believers would be incomplete.  God has given us each other so that we may grow to be more like Him.  We do that best in community and accountability with one another.

Day 2 follow-up activity: Compose a prayer using the points at the end of page 27, making it unique to you.


DAY 3: 

Summary - Day 3 is about Living/Being the Church, and what that looks like


Activity 7:

In the Session 2 video, Michael says to his friend, "I need to see the church in you Bro".

Describe in your own words what this meant.


Review the passages on pg 29 and then for each verse, describe what it says about:

 

  1. the freedom Christ gave His life for us to have;
  2. the implied responsibility we have to walk in that freedom.

 

Day 3 Principle:  The greatest joy we should have as Christ followers, is the freedom we have from the consequences of _______.

With this freedom comes the responsibility to hold each other ______________.  We also have the Holy ________ living in us to guide us, convict us, and correct us, conforming us to the image of our Jesus.

Day 3 follow-up activity: If you know of a believer who is living in sin, ask God to give you the courage and the words to go to them privately and speak with them about it with gentleness, respect and love.

 

Session 3 Review

Session 3 is about the power of the gospel.  That it's not just our "get out of hell free" card.   It's also our ticket to transformation (to be more like Christ in this journey of life).  This is what we call sanctification. We start this session by revisiting the definition of "grace" as Ms. Clara does in this week's movie clip.

 

Session 3 Homework Assignment:

For your homework, please complete the "Engage" section on page 33, as well as Days 1-3 on pages 34-39. Only 3 days - yeah!!


Wrap-up:

Have fun with it and remember, just do the best you can. God will always show up when his daughters are pursuing Him :)

Love you ladies. See you next week - at church (and where is that?) where 2 or more meet in His name! :D God BlessYou!


Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord,

What a wonderful time you have given us tonight. We thank you for always meeting our needs when we seek you and trust you like these ladies did tonight in our online bible study. Even though they couldn't make it to our in-person class on Thursday night, they showed up tonight as you led them to! I pray that you will bless them and keep them and may your face shine upon them. We love you and praise you Jesus. In your name we pray, Amen.


War Room: Session 2

Posted on September 11, 2015 at 12:45 AM

Session 2: Real Accountability

 

Welcome:

Hello Ladies!!! Welcome to Week 2! I hope you ladies had a wonderful week. We missed you last week, but so glad you made the time to catch up with us tonight.

Thank God for technology that we can still meet from the comfort of your home when life gets in the way and you just can't join us at the buiding we call church. But as the Father said, where any two or more meet, He will be there (Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them".) That's called church too ladies! So grab a cup of tea or something nice, get your study guide, a notebook, a pen or highlighter and your bible. Ready? Let's get started!


Opening Prayer:

Let's open in prayer. Please bow heads and join us :)

Dear Father,

We thank you so much for this alternative way to meet and study your word with each other. We pray that we will feel your presence and hear your voice through the message in our study guide. We pray that you will guide our conversation as we share our thoughts with each other and strive to honor you as we grow in the Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Session 2 Description:

Our second session is about accountability, one of the priceless gifts of Christian community. (Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy - Proverbs 27:5-6). This session takes the work of spiritual evaluation you did on your own last week and establishes guardrails to keep you on track for the new commitments you made.                              

We will first review the homework from last week (session 1), then we will review the introduction to session 2.  Then, you will complete 3 days (only 3 days!) of homework from this session (session 2) on your own before we meet next week, at which time we will discuss the homework in our group. Sound good? Alright. 

Session 1 Homework Review


Last week, we had homework on pages 13-19.   Let's take some time to discuss.

 

In the "Engage" section on page 13, the scripture that's referenced is Revelation 3:14-22.  

Activity: Take some time to read these verses now please.

Wow!  Some very strong words here!  

Activity: Please read all of page 13 and then we will open up the discussion.


Note the analogy made using hot, cold and lukewarm water.  Both hot and cold water are opposites, but both have specific benefits and are both useful.  Lukewarm water, on the other hand, is not only something to complain about, but can actually be harmful as it could contain harmful sediments when brought from distant sources back in the day.  I don't know about you, but I never thought about verse 16 like this before!  


Activity: Take a minute and look at verse 16 again, with this analogy in mind.  

Q1: How did you feel when you re-read Jesus' words "I will spit you out of my mouth"?  

Q2: How can we slowly become lukewarm with God when we drift from Him?

Q3: What evidences of lukewarm water do you see in believers' lives today?  How about your own life?

Q4: According to verse 19, what was motivating Jesus to offer such a harsh rebuke and such stern discipline?  (See also Hebrews 12:6). 


Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below for any or all of these questions - remember to add the question # before each comment.(Reflection and sharing in bible study is an important part of our growth and helps to maximize the benefit of the study. However, we understand if you are not comfortable sharing at this point. If that's you, I encourage you to answer the questions anyway, in a notebook/journal or even on your PC in a word doc)

REMINDER: Keep in mind that this blog can be viewed by anyone who comes to this website, so if you would like privacy, just use your first name and last initial versus your full name when you add your comments in the Comments Section.  If you are joining us during our meeting time, don't forget to hit the REFRESH button on your browser to be able to see comments by others.  You will not need to do this if you review the session after our online meeting.


The 2 things Jesus said in verse 19, that we should do, is to be zealous and to repent.  The guide defines "zealous" as "getting hot for God again" and then defines "repent" as changing our minds and hearts about something resulting in a "change of lifestyle".  

When you did your self-assessment last week (page 11), you should have put some clarity around your own relationship with God.  And you should have a pretty clear idea about how zealous and repentant you are.  As Christians, we are always growing and maturing, which means we all have room to improve on the "zealous and repent" scale.  

Nobody said it was easy, but Jesus in His usual way, is anything BUT lukewarm when He tells us HOW to get zealous and repentant.  In a nutshell, He extends an invitation to let Him into our hearts for a more intimate relationship.  You see, we cannot do this on our own.  But when we sincerely ask Christ to come into our lives and have His way, He can do amazing things in our lives that draw us closer to Him and away from the ways of the world.


Activity: Take a moment to write in your guide the 3 things that are keeping you from being more on fire for God?  (You may also share in the Comments if you would like).

Activity: Pray the prayer at the bottom of page 13.  Better yet, write it out and post it where you will see it daily and remind you to pray it everyday.


DAY 1: Why Attend Church? (Page 14-15)

In the movie clip, Miss Clara is hilarious when she asks Elizabeth (Priscilla Shrier) why she only attends church occassionaly - and does that mean that her pastor only preaches occassionally.  Simple humor that makes a point.

Why does it matter to attend church regularly? Today we will take a look at why this is important.  Of course, merely attending church does not make one a Christian, and similarly, claiming to be a Christian doesn't necessarily mean one knows Christ personally.  

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us to test ourselves/examine if we are truly in the faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that if we really know Christ, our hearts will have true transformation, resulting in a change in lifestyle in many ways.  One of the changes will be that we have a love for other Christians, wanting to connect with other Christians and share our lives with each other. (The book of 1 John).

Activity: Acts 2:44-46 describes the connection between the believers of the early church.  

Q5: How would you describe it in your own words?

Q6: How does this compare to the believers you know?  Which similarities are most evident, and what is most lacking in believers you know?

Activity: Based on 1 Corinthians 12:24b-27 (on bottom of page 14)

Q7: Have you had a time of distress when other believers have reached out to you, or maybe you have had the opportunity to reach out to another believer who needed support during a difficult time.  Are you willing to share an experience you have had?

Q8: Have you had a time of joy that you shared with the body of Christ - your small group or circle of Christian friends.  How did they share in your joy to multiply it?  

Activity: Based on Hebrews 10:23-25

Q9: What is the reason(s) given for believers to maintain faithful gatherings?


Wrap-Up Activity for Day 1: take a few minutes to 1) evaluate your connectedness to your church, and 2) prayerfully ask God how He wants you to be more deeply connected to your church.  If you are willing to share your thoughts on this, please do so in the comments section.

Day 1 Key Principle: God commands His children to stay connected - to love, serve, forgive, encourage, comfort, and pray for one another on a consistent basis. Not only do we mutually benefit and find joy in the beauty of these relationships, but God is glorified!


DAY 2: What's the temperature of your Prayer Life? (Page 16-17)

Our prayer life is the heart of this study, and on Day 2, we are examining our individual prayer life on the spectrum of Hot to Cold.  We are challenged to think about how we pray.  Do we lean towards the 'Cold" end of the spectrum?  In other words, do we pray only when we are in need?  Is prayer just a laundry list of our hurts, needs, wants?  Is it just an afterthought?  Or do we lean towards the "Hot" end of the spectrum, where prayer is constant necessity in our daily lives?  Do we see it as a weapon and not just a want ad?  Do we see it as a beautiful way to fellowship with our precious Father?

Activity:  For the exercise you completed on page 16, please share at least one thing you wrote about God's armor and it's purpose.

Q10:  Have you ever thought of prayer as armor/ battle attire?  Do you believe in spiritual warfare?  If so, do you often identify it when it's active in your life?  Are you willing to share an experience?

Based on the exercise you completed on page 17:

Q11: How does Ephesians 6:18 instruct us to pray?  When, for whom and how should we pray?  Was any of this an "Aha" moment for you?

Q12: For the phrases in verse 18 that you defined in this exercise, what resonated with you?  Was anything a surprise to you?

Q13: At times, what might cause you to forget your need for Christ and the armor of God?  And how can you overcome this?


Activity for Day 2 wrap-up: (Bottom of page 17)

1) Choosing a posture of submission (on your knees or lying face down), confess your great need for God.  Ask Him to identify for  you things you try to place before Him.  Express your desire to remove those things and depend solely on Him.

2) Compose a statement indicating your desire for a richer prayer life. Express to God where you would like your prayer life to go in the days ahead.  Ask Him to help you get there.  Remember, you cannot do this in your own strength.  

Day 2 Key Principle: Prayer is one of our best resources when it comes to spiritual growth.  It's also a weapon we have for battle.  It's a priviledge to approach God through Jesus. How much we pray reveals how much we depend on God.  How little we pray reveals our self-sufficiency. A richer, more active prayer life results when we humbly admit our need for God and depend on Him daily for widsom and grace to do His will in each situation.


DAY 3: Learning from each other - mentoring and being mentored. (Page 18-19)

On Day 1, we discussed the importance of staying connected to other believers.  One of the greatest benefits of this is that we can learn alot about our own journey in life from each other.  We don't have to repeat one another's mistakes and we can learn about being stronger Christ followers by observing Christians more mature than we are.  This is one of the Bible's prescribed methods of discipleship. (1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Corinthians 4:16 and Hebrews 13:7).

Activity: Based on the exercises you completed on pages 18-19:

Q14: Do you have a Christian friend or family member who you consider a mentor?  Someone you have learned from in terms of your spiritual growth? (Psalm 145:4)

Q15:Has this person helped you to avoid landmines in your life, based on their wise counsel or example?  Are you willing to share at some level?

Q16: In the evaluation tool, did you uncover specific areas in your Christian walk that are lacking and require steps to improve? Write a commitment statement on what you want to improve on and how you plan to do so.  Are you receptive to a mentor or trusted friend holding you accountable to your commitment? (Proverbs 27:17)


Day 3 Key Principle: As a maturing believer, remember the generation before us and the one after us. The previous generation has a responsibility to teach us/ mentor us / or lead by example. We also have a responsibility to pass on our faith to the next generation. Please ready Psalm 145:4 now.

Wrap-Up Activity for Day 3: Pray now for your present and future mentors and also those who will be under your care. List the names of the people in your life to whom you feel a personal responsibility to model a Christ-like example.


Session 2 Review

Let's consider the following questions:

Q17: What stood out most to you during last week's session?

Q18: What spiritual evaluations or commitments did God lead you to make this past week?

Activity: Please answer one or both questions in the comments section below.  Remember to add the question # before you write your comments.


Activity: Read the prayer on page 21 (aloud).  It is based on Psalm 141:3-5a.

Activity:

Q19: Is this a prayer you would willingly (or normally) pray?  Please answer in the comments section below. Remember to add the question # before you write your comments.


Take time to define the term "accountability".  

Q20: What does it look like?  How is it best utilized?  How have you seen it abused?

Activity: Please answer one or all questions in the comments section below. Remember to add the question # before you write your comments.


Activity: Read a summary description of the clip on page 22 of your study guide.

Let's discuss the clip based on the questions in your study guide, page 22. Let's take some time to share as you feel led, answering the following questions:

Q21: Explain a moment when you have been in Michael's sneakers. How was it easy or difficult for you to speak challenging words to someone you care about.

Q22: Consider a moment when you have found yourself in Tony's place.  Did you have someone in your life that stepped up and confronted your sin?  If so, how did you receive it.

Q23: How important is accountability in the context of Christian relationships?  Why do you think that?

Activity: Please answer one or all questions in the comments section below. Remember to add the question # before you write your comments.

Ok. If you are done entering your comments below, thank you for sharing ladies. It is always a blessing to share and encourage each other. Our growth would be almost non-existent without it.


Session 2 Homework Assignment:

For your homework, please complete the "Engage" section on page 23, as well as Days 1-3 on pages 24-29. Only 3 days - yeah!!

 

Wrap-up:

Have fun with it and remember, just do the best you can. God will always show up when his daughters are pursuing Him :)

Love you ladies. See you next week - at church (and where is that?) where 2 or more meet in His name! :D God BlessYou!

 

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord,

What a wonderful time you have given us tonight. We thank you for always meeting our needs when we seek you and trust you like these ladies did tonight in our online bible study. Even though they couldn't make it to our in-person class on Thursday night, they showed up tonight as you led them to! I pray that you will bless them and keep them and may your face shine upon them. We love you and praise you Jesus. In your name we pray, Amen.

War Room: Session 1

Posted on September 6, 2015 at 2:00 AM

   Session 1: Honest Evaluation


Welcome:

Hello Ladies!!!  Welcome to Week 1!  I hope you ladies had a wonderful week.  We missed you in Session 1, but so glad you made the time to catch up with us today.

Thank God for technology that we can still meet from the comfort of your home when life gets in the way and you just can't join us at the buiding we call church. But as the Father said, where any two or more meet, He will be there (Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them".) That's called church too ladies! So grab a cup of tea or something nice, get your study guide, a pen or highlighter and your bible. Ready? Let's get started!

 

Opening Prayer:

Let's open in prayer. Please bow heads and join us :)

Dear Father,

We thank you so much for this alternative way to meet and study your word with each other. We pray that we will feel your presence and hear your voice through the message in our study guide. We pray that you will guide our conversation as we share our thoughts with each other and strive to honor you as we grow in the Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.


Session 1 Desciption:

Our first session is about encouraging honest self-evaluation between you and God. It isn't intended to discourage but to help you understand yourself and inspire you on to greater spiritual growth in the weeks to come.  

First, let's review what we did last week, and then you will complete 3 days (only 3 days!) of homework on your own before we meet next week, at which time we will discuss the homework in our group.  Sound good?  Alright.


Class Activity Review (what we did in Session 1):

During our first week, we spent most of the time on introductions.  We have 25 total in our group, (Praise the Lord) - some new and some old (I don't mean it like that ladies!! :lol:).  This includes 2 facilitators, Karen and myself. Yeah for Karen!  So thankful that God nudged her along to serve us on Thursday nights!  And so grateful for her service.


We also went over some housekeeping stuff and church guidelines as follows:

1. We will keep this a welcoming, safe place for discussion as we come together to share what God is teaching us through each study.  We are to support each other with Christ-like love, free of judgement or condemnation.

2. All discussions and prayer requests will be kept confidential and within our group, (unless you would like us to solicit additional prayer warriors outside our group).

3. Our time together is a blessing to share what God has been teaching each of us.  We are here to study together and facilitate discussion. Facilitators are not counselors, however.  The church has trained Stephen Ministers available as well as other appropriate counseling resources to help you with whatever you might be experiencing in life currently.  Just reach out and we will put you in contact with the right person.

4. Our discussion should be focused on God and what He reveals through His Word.  Discussions must be free from denominations, politics, school choice options, personal business, and recruiting.

5. Outreach opportunities must be approved ahead of time.

6. Each study group takes turns bringing heavy snacks so that ladies are not coming from work to bible study hungry and unable to focus on study time. Not to mention it just makes for a fun time! ;)


Then we got into our study!  


Session 1 Review:

We started by reviewing the probing, self-assessment questions on page 11.  These are deeply personal and for your individual benefit.  

Activity: So I asked the ladies to do this exercise at home and keep their answers.  Please take a few minutes to complete this exercise now or after this session, and keep your notes for yourself.  Then at the end of our study, we will answer these same questions again to see if we answer them any differently.  


Finally, we saw the first movie clip (they are only 3-5 mins long).  I know, not the 30-60 min videos we are used to, right?!  But the idea is to watch the clip and then have discussion around it based on some thought-provoking questions in our study guide.  

Activity: Read a summary description of the clip on page 12 of your study guide.


After the clip, Karen did an awesome job leading us through a discussion based on the questions in your study guide, page 12.  Let's take some time to share as you feel led, answering the following questions.  

Q1: What is one thing about your life right now that you desire to be better? Have you been praying about this one thing?

Q2: Do you ever feel like you are fighting the wrong fight?  Explain.

Q3: What land mines are present in your life?  Are there some you have stepped on?  Are there some, by God's grace you have avoided? Are there some you fear looming on the landscape of your life ahead?


Activity: You can answer any or all 3 questions in the comments section below to share with your sisters in the online study.  


Ok.  If you are done entering your comments below, thank you for sharing ladies.  It is always a blessing to share and encourage each other. Our growth would be almost non-existent without it.  


Session 1 Homework Assignment:

For your homework, please complete the "Engage" section on page 13, as well as Days 1-3 on pages 14-19.  Only 3 days - yeah!!


Wrap-up:

Have fun with it and remember, just do the best you can.  God will always show up when his daughters are pursuing Him :)

Love you ladies.  See you next week - at church (and where is that?) where 2 or more meet in His name! :D  God BlessYou!


Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord,

What a wonderful time you have given us tonight.  We thank you for always meeting our needs when we seek you and trust you like these ladies did tonight in our online bible study. Even though they couldn't make it to our in-person class on Thursday night, they showed up tonight as you led them to!  I pray that you will bless them and keep them and may your face shine upon them.  We love you and praise you Jesus.  In your name we pray, Amen. 

WHO IS GOD? ~ The Nature and Character of God (1 of 5)

Posted on September 5, 2015 at 3:45 AM
Who is God ~ Uncovering the Mystery

As we wrapped up summer, got the kids back to school, and anticipated the coming of Fall, I got to thinking... 

Maybe it's a good time to take a step back and do some "back-to-school" time ourselves.  What I mean is...as Christians, we might sometimes get in a routine of church attendance, a bible study class, some good deeds here and there, etc.,...but do we really stop regularly and love on God?  So what does this have to do with my "back-to-school" idea?  Well, it's quite simple really.  We can't truly love someone in the sense of actively loving them unless we get to know them, right? I'm guessing mostly all Christians will say of course we know God and love Him.   But we can each know Him at different levels at different times as we progress in our journey of Christian maturity.  There is also a huge difference between knowing OF God and really knowing God, and that is usually a key difference between non-believers and believers, and sometimes even amongst some believers (like I used to be).


So whether you are a believer, non-believer or seeker, I hope this "back to the basics" look at who God is (a 5-part blog series this Fall) will bring a breath of fresh air to your relationship with Him.  Ultimately, my prayer is that through renewed knowledge and heart-felt understanding, you will have a deeper yearning for Him that leads you to (actively) love Him.  I'll explain as we go along so I hope you'll stick with me through the series!


God is most certainly infinite and we are hardly capable of fully grasping all there is to know about Him with our eartly minds. However, He shared alot about Himself in His Word that can help us to understand His character.  Over the next four months, we will search His Word for some of these revelations to get you started (or help you continue your journey), so you can get closer to falling head over heals in love with Him, if you haven't already.  And if you have, well, you know what an adventure it is, so just do it all over again! ;)




For our first of this 5-part series, let's look at

The Nature and Character of God

1) First...He wants to be known

God seems like a mystery to many, both non-believers and believers, and that's because He is!  Our human minds can't truly grasp all there is to know about God, at least not this side of heaven.  But God is not some distant God on a far-away throne.  He wants to reveal Himself to us, as much as we can handle about an infinite God.  He knows who we are because He created us to have a relationship with Him.  But how can we have a relationship with someone without getting to know them personally?  One might know about God, but they may not really know Him in an up close and personal way.  Like a close friendship, close family ties, and successful marriages, it takes some work.


So how can we know an all powerful, all-knowing God who holds the mysteries of the universe?  Thankfully, that's no mystery. In Jeremiah 29:13 He invites us to seek Him out with "all our heart" and promises in His word that we will find Him! A perfect God cannot lie, so when he makes a promise in His word, it's truthful and real. But while He yearns for us to know Him, it's up to us to seek Him out. He longs to have a relationship with us, and more so than I think we can truly comprehend...just think of the incomprehensible act of love on the cross.  The honest seeker will find Him, and come to know His word as truth when and as the Holy Spirit reveals His mysteries.  


Even if you think you know Him, I encourage you to start a new adventure by asking Him to show you the way to a fresh and new revelation of Him.  Then, let's follow through with a committment to search His Word with a sincere heart. He is always waiting for us with open arms. So thankful for that! Praise Him!




2) He understands (and grieves for) our hurts, our pain, our suffering. 

We have all heard the irreverant, but very familiar comments from the unbelieving world - "if He is so powerful and all-knowing, why does He let children starve to death and get raped and murdered?"  or something similar.  We should always be prepared with an answer for the world (1 Peter 3:15 - Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect).  While many theologians do not claim to know everything about why God allows suffering in this world, there has been much written and shared by the greatest of them (as God has revealed to them) that sheds alot of light on the subject.  


However, allow me to say in my own words (humbly) that the critics need to realize that God is not some publicly elected official whose job it is to serve the people.  It is the people's job to serve God and one of the ways we are to do this is by serving others.  Don't you ever want to just say to them, "and what have you done to help those starving children"? Jesus  told us what to do when He said to "feed the hungry", among many other instructions he left before leaving earth.  He gave us the power to do these things.  Why do we expect Him to do our job?  Do we expect our bosses to do our jobs at work?  And then of course there is the issue of free will.  Free to choose, free to make decisions, free to speak, free to act, and unfortunately only some choose good while others choose evil.  


We can't have it both ways - we can't be free and then expect God to control our choices.  He didn't create robots, but humans to have a relationship with, a relationship that has to be born out of free choice.  So when some choose evil acts like rape or murder, we can't expect God to be responsible for that!  But He does know what suffering is and feels our sorrow deeply, because He walked the earth over 2000 years ago and felt inexplicable pain and suffering himself.  While He doesn't wave a magic wand to stop all the evil acts of men, there are times when He will intervene with grace and even miracles.  Either way, He promises in His word to always walk beside us, never leave us or forsake us, and to get us to the other side of the storm.




3) He loves us...just as we are!

God loves us as a loving parent loves their children, unconditionally and without limits. It might be inconceivable to some that the sovereign king of the universe, our creator and an all powerful God would love them just as they are. However, regardless of what we think or not think, it doesn’t change God’s truth. His Word, protected through the ages, and proven infallible, says so. He not only speaks of His love, but He also proved it over 2000 years ago when He sent His son Jesus to earth to redeem mankind. Mankind’s redemption was necessary to reconcile us to a perfect God who we have offended with sin. God’s law required it. It’s not a fairy tale, but a well documented historical event outside the bible as well. This is called the Gospel, the Good News of God’s amazing and incomprehensible love for us, because it is Truth and it brings the world the best news it can ever hope to hear. It is only required of us to believe it and receive it as truth. And only then does our journey with God begin.  


If you are a non-believer, you might be wondering: how does one believe and receive it as Truth?  First, we have to acknowledge our sinful nature.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  While God created us in His image, He gave us freedom to make choices, and we have all chosen sin.  We then need to acknowledge our need for a Savior to rescue us from the penalty of our sin and lead us to the best life God has planned for us, here on earth and in heaven for all eternity.  That Savior is Jesus Christ who paid the penalty of our sin on the cross. When we acknowledge and receive this free gift and ask Him to come into our hearts, we have believed and received.


If you are ready, here is an example of a prayer to help you ask Jesus into your heart: 

Dear God,

I am so in awe of the incomprehensible sacrifice you made for me when you sent Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. If I never knew what true love is, the Gospel spells it out without a single doubt. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for not only talking about your love for me, but for demonstrating it through Jesus. Because of Him, I know I will have a perfect eternal life with you in heaven, spared of the penalty of my sin. I know it also wipes the slate clean starting now in this life here on earth. Help me to live my life with the Gospel at the center, and with Jesus in my heart always. Thank you Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.



For a deeper dive: The mystery of God (Colossians 2:2; Revelation 10:7), the mystery of His will (Ephesians 1:9), the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 4:3), the mystery of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11), the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19), the mystery of the faith (1 Timothy  3:9), and the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16).


I would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave comments below. Have a blessed day!


The Invisible Mom

Posted on May 3, 2015 at 1:40 PM

To ALL moms on Mother’s Day:

You have the most important job in the world, ordained by God.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  

In His strength, all things are possible, and in His eyes, you are never invisible!

~ Love, Victoria. 


I didn't write "The Invisible Mom", but every Mother's Day I send it to my friends to remind them of how valued they are in God's eyes for the priceless job of being a mom.  It's worth the read ladies! It will bless you! Warning: Get the tissues :)


The Invisible Mom (Author Unknown)

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.



Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more. "Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?" Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a  car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.' I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!


One night, a group of us were having dinner,celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:


'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'



 

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

 

  1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
  2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
  3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
  4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. 


A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'


And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'



 

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me,


'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'


At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.



 

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'


As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.



GREAT JOB MOM!!!


Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know... I just did. And kids should share it with their moms, too!

Author Not Known


Pretty as a Postcard, (and still in love with social media)

Posted on January 20, 2015 at 12:10 AM
You might be wondering, so what's the big idea about postcards?  We get beautiful photos, inspirational quotes and cards on facebook almost daily, right?  Enjoyable yes, and convenient for sure.  I love them too, and I hope they continue to flood our cyberspace to reach millions of us with kind words and encouragement every day.  But while snail mail might not be hip today or even the most convenient for us in our over busy lives, there is still something about receiving a card or thoughtful note in your mailbox that emails and social media just can't fully compete with. It's deeply personal, it's high-touch, and it's a little nostalgic reminding us of the simple pleasures we often crave from the good old days.


It's like a gem in the stack of bills and routine stuff we usually come home to after a long day. It says that someone made a little extra time just for you. 

In our incredible information age, digital technology makes a vast array of information easily available and highly accessible for our inquisitive minds. And that's above and beyond the sea of emails at work and at home that makes for daily required reading. We are inundated and sometimes overwhelmed with lots to read, process and digest on a daily basis. So much so that we have fallen in love with Instagram, a platform of photographs that's a welcome sight for sore eyes. Who would have thought years ago that we would love communicating with just pictures?


So one has to wonder, where in this plethora of required reading and love of social media will we carve out a special place for reading God's word on a daily basis? Maybe not so challenging for die-hard bible study fans, but what about the rest of us?



What if we devoted only minutes each day to just one passage of scripture, just one at a time?  What if we looked at God's word through pictures and digestible bites of information?  It's been said that a picture says a thousand words and it's a fact that visuals help us have better recall.  So might we absorb and memorize scripture in a new and more impactful way with something like glorified flash cards?  Cards with God's words and inspiration against a backdrop of scenic photos also offer visual appeal for weary eyes.  A real 3-D card to touch and feel, and to keep within regular view, is most desirable for the task of scripture meditation and memorization. E-versions are certainly desirable and impactful in their own right, but without the same staying power as we tend to scan them quickly and move on to the next one in an ocean of pics and quotes, often forgetting the one we left behind. And what about those who don't use social media...we need to reach them too!




The postcards by Passages Forever are created with this vision in mind.  They are designed with scripture and a photograph on the front, and an inspirational note and prayer on the back.  They can be used as personal devotionals for prayer, study and scripture memorization, and also as greeting cards, and as witnessing cards. And not to worry, you will have the convenience you are used to with social media.  We will handle the mailing for you, so you don't have to even lick a stamp, unless of course, you want to. :) 


Use as Devotionals - To brighten your day and grow your faith 

Use these scenic postcards for your devotional time, or post them somewhere as a daily reminder of God's love for you. Use them to develop your prayer life, and as study aids to memorize scripture. Imagine if we didn't have access to a bible? Or what if in a moment of despair we could have instant recall to God's principles and promises when we need them most? Having God's word inscribed in your hearts will be true personal treasure in moments like these.



Use as Greeting Cards - To encourage a friend

Encourage a friend (or stranger) with God's word and a message that they just might be needing to hear today...a message in their mailbox...that touches their life with a simple act of kindness.


Use as Witnessing Cards-To share the love of Christ

We have all been there, wanting others to know the awesome good news about why we have hope, purpose, peace and joy...about life and how it was meant to be and still can be, about God and mankind and our future. We know it's not only our responsibility but also our privilege to share the love of Christ with the world. And yet, we sometimes struggle for the words, for fear of offending, of rejection, of failure to adequately communicate the Good News and simply put, "fear of blowing it". However, it's helpful to me when I remember that it's only the Holy Spirit who has the final authority and power to bring someone to Christ (John 6:44). But I also know we are to be His ambassadors (Mark 16:15). It's my prayer that these scenic postcards with Gods words of love and hope will be helpful tools in our call to the Great Commission, as you share God's incredible message of man's redemption, one passage at a time.




It's my prayer that you will make a commitment to use these cards daily, allowing 
the Holy Spirit to minister to you and those your share them with, one passage at at time...
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So how do you think you might use our postcards to help you in your daily walk with our Lord?  
Feel free to share your thoughts by clicking on the "comments" menu above - I would love to hear from you!


~Victoria Child

 



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