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Posted 11/20/17 at 12:23 PM | Audra Jennings

Ritual, Relationships and Rest

Part 1 of an interview with Melissa Spoelstra,
Author of Total Christmas Makeover

Total Christmas Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra

As Melissa Spoelstra studied the Book of Numbers while writing her Bible study on the topic, she noticed three elements included in the festivities and began thinking about how she could apply them to her personal Christmas celebrations. She shares those revelations with readers in her latest book, Total Christmas Makeover (Abingdon Press). In fact, Spoelstra devotes a section of the book to each of the elements:

  • Ritual: Special activities out of the ordinary routine were planned to help remember what God has done.
  • Relationships: Time spent together preparing special foods, eating, gathering in holy assembly, and explaining traditions to children.
  • Rest: Regular work set aside for planned times of celebration and rest from activity to allow for reflection on God.

“A total Christmas makeover doesn’t mean scrapping all your holiday traditions or adding ten more to your list. Instead, it is a personal time of reflection to evaluate how your Christmas practices align with some biblical concepts of celebration,” explains Spoelstra. “Passover, festivals, and feasts were instituted by God to help His people remember who He is and what He has done. While we have no such specifics given for our celebration of Christ’s birth because it comes from church history rather than biblical mandate, we can glean some important principles about celebration from Scripture.”

Q: Since the Bible doesn’t expressly instruct us to celebrate Christ’s birth, is it OK to mix the more secular elements of Christmas in with the religious aspects of the holiday?

In light of the many holy days set aside in Scripture for the purpose of celebration, I have to believe God loves a good party. Jesus spent a significant time at parties during His ministry on earth. I don’t think every aspect of Christmas has to be hyper-spiritual. Of course, we want to focus on Christ’s humble birth, God’s extravagant love and the sacrifice He made to redeem us. That doesn’t mean we can’t have some rituals that are just for fun. My husband hides our children’s stockings every year since we never had a good place to hang them. They wake up before us on Christmas morning and find a handwritten poem with clues and parameters to start hunting. As they got older he went a little crazy, burying one in a bin underground and another year placing one of them on the roof (clearly without permission from me!). This has no spiritual significance, but it will be one of my children’s favorite memories. Later in the day we will read from Luke and share what Christ has done in our lives, but the morning stocking hunt is just for fun. I’m sure many of you have traditions that aren’t inherently spiritual, but if they aren’t contrary to God’s Word or offensive to Christ’s message, I believe we have a lot of freedom in Christ worth exercising!

Q: As long as you make sure everything you do is Christ-honoring in some way, is there anything wrong with going “all out” for Christmas? Looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, is it OK if you don’t do anything special to observe or celebrate Christmas?

Let’s remember that Christmas isn’t a commanded holy day in the Bible. God did issue consequences for those who refused to celebrate Passover without a good reason (Numbers 9:13), but Christmas is a tradition, not a commanded holiday. I have friends who really go all out. My friend Elizabeth loves Christmas. She has the gift of wonder, and her excitement is contagious. God loves extravagantly. He went all out with an angel song for shepherds. There is nothing wrong with going all out. The danger comes when we lose our focus on Christ and exhaust ourselves with an overwhelmed attitude. Those who choose not to celebrate Christmas citing the commercialization, pagan roots of some traditions or personal reasons aren’t breaking any biblical command either. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. What we need is balance and Holy Spirit leading to manage our time, talents and treasures in a way that honors the God we celebrate at Christmas.

Q: What are some of your family’s favorite traditions? How have they changed throughout the years?

When our children were little, someone shared with me the Jesse Tree project. It includes 25 short devotions with references to pages in the Beginner Bible. The stories begin with creation and end with the cross. The booklet also gave instructions for corresponding ornaments to place on a miniature Christmas tree. We made or bought these ornaments and wrapped them with Christmas paper. Our children enjoyed making many of them since we couldn’t find a fiery furnace or Ten Commandments scroll in stores! We used shrinky dinks, construction paper, pipe cleaners and a variety of craft materials. Each year I would wrap them all individually and put the corresponding number of the day it was to be placed on the tree on the package. Each night before bed we would do the reading, and the kids would take turns opening the ornament and hanging it on a small tree.

Once our children got into middle school, our bedtime routines changed with sports and youth group activities, and we found ourselves needing to catch up doing two or three ornaments every few days. Eventually we stopped doing the Jesse Tree devotions and ornaments and assigned each child an evening to share their own devotion on a Christmas topic of their choosing (star, angels, wise man, shepherds, etc.). They had to include a fun activity (game or craft) as well as a reading from Scripture and discussion questions. While I love to reminiscence our sweet nightly December times when they were little with the Jesse Tree, I also enjoy our new traditions with college- and high-school-aged kids.

Q: During the busyness of the holiday season, in what ways can we focus on relationships and valuing others?

If we aren’t careful, people can become scenery and machinery. The waitress who brings our coffee. The postal worker who brings the mail. These are real people with real stories. When we break through the reverie of our own to-do lists and start to see them, we can ask questions. We can begin to pray for them. We might even get the opportunity to share about Christ with words or show them Christ with generosity. We want to become “there you are” kind of people rather than “here I am” Christians. This will require us to be intentional in focusing on people rather than tasks during a busy time of year.

Melissa Spoelstra, author of Total Christmas Makeover

Q: The third section of Total Christmas Makeover focuses on rest. How are we supposed to work rest into December? Isn’t rest what January is for?

Rest requires preparation. It means we must leave some margin in our schedules and finances. We must block off chunks of time and guard them as an important commitment. Biblical celebration always required Sabbath. No regular work was to be done. This has never been as challenging as it is now with email on our phone and notifications galore. To take a true break from ordinary work, it might mean locking up devices or just checking them a little less frequently. Rest isn’t watching more television. It means giving our minds, bodies and souls a chance to stop and leave space to hear from God. True rest produces no work, but it does leave us refreshed and reflective.

Q: In what ways can rest mean different things for different people?

Introverts and extroverts often find different types of things restful. As an introvert, I like to rest alone. I enjoy reading, napping, sitting outside or going for a stroll. My extroverted husband still likes a good nap and some of these activities as well, but he feels rested talking with friends or family. He enjoys a family game or a walk with others. Being with people replenishes him while being alone recharges me. Each person must discover the type of things that help them feel rested and connected to God. At Christmas, I enjoy sitting on my couch each evening just looking at the lights on my Christmas tree. I think about my day and my God and take a few minutes to savor what Jesus has done in my life.

For more about Melissa Spoelstra and Total Family Makeover, visit You can also follow her on Facebook (AuthorMelissaSpolestra) and Twitter (@MelSpoelstra).

Posted 10/30/17 at 10:29 AM | crystal jerke

How Spiritual Advice Helps To Find Your Life Path

Are you feeling at your wit’s end? Are you feeling out of energy and does your life seems just stagnant? You might be nursing a tired soul and struggling hard to find the silver lining but all hope seems to have lost. But don’t worry, hope is something eternal and you have to deploy your internal wisdom here to find new meaning in life. Gifted by God, we all have our share of internal wisdom or intuition which facilitates the divine link between the soul & our embodied self. You have to explore this spiritual expedition of listening to the internal wisdom to proceed in life. However, not all of us know how to connect ourselves to our internal wisdom and this is where spiritual guidance by spiritual advisors like Spiritual reading help to find the right path of life. You have spiritual websites online that offer live counseling, telephonic counseling, added to in-person counseling.You can use landline plt wireless headsets while telephonic counseling.

How would the spiritual reading or advisors help you?

Spiritual advisors from spiritual websites are seasoned in connecting to spiritual self or the internal wisdom through their knowledge of the spiritual exercise and hence can help you too to connect yourself to your intuition. They will extend you the needed spiritual insight on the webs that link a person’s present with his or her possible future. You can define them as the mountain guide taking you to progressively higher levels of the spiritual insight so that you can develop the greater self. Spiritual guidance will bridge the spiritual unseen world with the physical sensory universe to enlighten you on what to do & how to do it to succeed in life. The spiritual advisors take to either mediumship or astrology or tarot card reading to understand a person’s latest circumstances & people around him to suggest the needed course of action for him. FULL POST

Posted 10/27/17 at 1:13 PM | Audra Jennings

Life’s problems are what can bring you closer to God

Part 2 of an interview with Micah Maddox,
Author of Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World

Click here to read part 1 of the interview.

Abingdon Press
Anchored In by Micah Maddox

Problems can make you feel like God is far away, but they can also be the very things that bring you closer to him.

Anchored In (Abingdon Press) by Micah Maddox isn’t a book of Christian cliché’s or sweet stories to warm the heart but rather an authentic look at the hard parts of life. It challenges us to stop running from and clinging to the past, and to grasp tightly to the only unshakable Anchor that is able to sustain our souls through the storms of life.

Maddox shares personal stories, such as her father’s abandonment of her family, and couples them with biblical application to offer real-life glimpses of God at work. She offers inspiration to live a life full of God’s power rather than one that causes us to turn away and be paralyzed by problems.

Q: What experience from your past played a major role in leading you to write Anchored In?

Anchored In was a journey of healing for me. After being abandoned by my dad (who was a pastor) when I was six, I spent my life wondering why bad things happen. As an adult, I finally faced the biggest fear of my life and tried to reconnect with my dad, but when I did, he did not pursue a relationship with me. At that point, I was forced either to turn to God and find my anchor in Him or choose to continue running from my heartache. I chose God. I found Him to be the most firm, secure, comforting healer and cornerstone. He is my Anchor, and He proved His love to me. I learned it doesn’t matter what we face on this earth. God’s power and presence is greater and stronger than anything this world throws at us.

I began writing before I realized I was actually writing a book. I began with a blog, and every time God would put something on my heart, I would write it down. After a few months, I realized everything God was speaking to my heart had a common theme. I began organizing my thoughts and stories and eventually had a solid outline for a book.

I wrote Anchored In to let others know that God’s power is available and freely accessible even when life seems like it is falling apart.

Q: Why is it beneficial to reflect on the difficult times in our lives rather than simply putting the past in the past?

Our past defines us. It makes us who we are. If we never dig into the things we have been through, never deal with them and never use them to become stronger, we waste a valuable piece of our lives. Putting things in the past is good but only after we’ve dealt with them. If we pretend away the problems of our past, we are truly only compounding the pain in our hearts, and at some point we will be forced to deal with it.

Q: Tell us about your journey into ministry, especially after being hurt through your father’s decision to leave the ministry he was involved in.

When I was a teenager I attended a small Christian school, and we had chapel services every week. One week a pastor was speaking on living a life of full-time ministry, and I knelt down at the end of that chapel service and felt God speak to me. He said, “You are going to finish the ministry your dad started.” At that point I knew God would use me to share the truth of His love with the world.

I began teaching the Bible right out of college, and for eight years I stood up in front of teenage girls and women and gave them whatever lessons God was giving me. When my husband and I made a major move and transitioned from one ministry to another, I went through a season of silence. I wasn’t teaching or speaking. I knew God had placed a call on my life to share His Word, but in this season I couldn’t understand why the opportunities were not available. As I sought the Lord and asked for direction, God clearly led me to start a blog and share my heart in that way. This was never on my radar, nor was it a desire I had ever had before, but I grew to love writing and found God had a place for me in the writing world.

Micah Maddox, author of Anchored In

Q: What are the steps required to anchor our thoughts in God’s power rather letting our problems consume our minds?

In the book I include five simple steps to follow to change the old thought patterns we tend to revert to.

1. Pray over it. Too often we wait to pray until prayer seems to be the only option. We are going to look at it as the foundation of making real life change.
2. Identify it. We must identify the thought patterns that consistently cause us to focus on our problems. Once we identify it, we must take action.
3. Obey. Obedience means we do what Paul reminds us to do with our thoughts in II Corinthians and take every thought captive.
4. Stop it. This is continual obedience. It’s making the choice to change every time you are tempted with a new thought that threatens to derail you.
5. Replace it. This is my favorite step and the one that holds the most value. However, without the other steps we may never get to this point. When we pray over it, identify the thought, obey God and stop the thought in its tracks, we are ready to replace those old musty thoughts with God’s truth.

I like to claim specific verses for specific thoughts. If I’m struggling with fear, I will claim Psalm 56:3, which says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.” If I have felt left out or alone and keep dwelling on the people who put me in that position, I will claim Hebrews 13:5, which says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” When we can name our thoughts by identifying them and calling them out and then make the active choice to obey God in that moment, we seek Him. In our seeking, we find the truth of His word. It’s power-full. It gives us power over the thoughts that typically cause us to end up in a downhill spiral. Problems are going to come, but we have what we need to move beyond them without letting them consume our minds. We have the power of God available to us through the truth of His Word. Transformational thinking comes when we begin to see truth instead of trauma.

I’ll be honest; I have to work on this constantly.

Q: What advice do you offer for those who are living in a “season of darkness,” or a time when it does not feel as though God is present?

I think we all go through these seasons. I can even find myself there today. When we go through hard circumstances, it’s natural to feel discouraged and that dark cloud comes rolling in. Here is what I have learned about the dark seasons, though: “Darkness is only a distraction. It does not mean God has departed.” When I remember this truth, I cling to the fact God is still with me even in the dark moments and seasons of life.

Learn more at She is also active on Facebook (@micahmaddoxencouragement), Twitter (@MrsMicahMaddox) and Instagram (@mrsmicah).

Posted 10/26/17 at 10:30 PM | June Samuel

The Behaviors of the Just

What behaviors does God expect of a just person? I was reading Ezekiel chapter 18 and I read some interesting things about the life of a person whom God considers just in Israel. God has not changed, so let us look into those behaviors in Ezekiel chapter 18 verses 5 through 9. It may be a good reminder for us today on practical living. By the way, who is a just person?

A just person is one who has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. One who has accepted God’s pronouncement that he/she is a sinner and needs a Savior. Such a one has confessed that he is a sinner, repents of his sin and turns to Jesus Christ in faith for redemption. He/She is justified in God’s sight and is no longer a sinner. She is now a just person. She is a righteous person in Jesus Christ, because she has accepted God’s offer of salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world through His death on the cross of Calvary over 2000 years ago. All we have to do is to accept Him.

Note how Verse 5 begins: “ But if a man is just and does ……….” The behavior’s of a man or woman does not make him or her just. He is just first through his faith. FULL POST

Posted 10/24/17 at 4:31 AM | Dylan Moran

5 Ways I Stay Inspired In A Negative World

Lets face it, negativity surrounds us and it can be quite challenging to stay inspired and motivated. Every day we are faced with a set of obstacles that will challenge our faith and will make us want to throw in the towel and give up on life.

As a devoted Christian, I want do everything I can to be the best version of myself. So, I wanted to share with this community five things that help keep me grounded and my relationship close to God.

1. Practice Gratitude Daily

Every day, I focus on one thing that I am extremely grateful for. Whether it is my wife, health, friends, job, children, or this beautiful planet, when I wake up first thing in the morning I like to remind myself of how blessed I am.

Every time I remind myself, it really helps me to focus on the simple things in life. So many of us get wrapped up in all the crazy things going on around us that we forget to enjoy and appreciate the simple things.

2. Inspirational Quotes FULL POST

Posted 10/6/17 at 12:17 PM | Audra Jennings

The beautiful sacredness in the life you are already living

Part 2 of an interview with Kari Patterson,
Author of Sacred Mundane

Kregel Publications
Sacred Mundane by Kari Patterson

When life seems ordinary and unexciting, it is easy to slip into the mindset of being stuck and in need of a change. In Sacred Mundane: How to Find Freedom, Purpose, and Joy (Kregel Publications), Kari Patterson shows the reader the key to change is already in her hand once she realizes what is holding her back. “In 2 Kings, we read, ‘Naaman was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.’ He had so much going for him, but his leprosy threatened to steal it all,” explains Patterson. “I ask readers to consider their own lives and prayerfully simmer down their own life into a sentence. So often we’re vaguely aware of the areas we want to change, but we don’t take the time to narrow down and identify the one thing hindering us most. Identifying the one thing helps us see more clearly how God wants to use our mundane to make us more like Him.”

Patterson points readers to the truth: In each unremarkable life lies an opportunity to see, know, love and be transformed by God, who meets everyone right where they are. Instead of stepping away from real life to find God, Patterson equips women with a six-step practice to move forward and meet Him in the humdrum moments of everyday existence:

1. Look: see the world through the word
2. Listen: discern His voice in daily life
3. Engage: enter in
4. Embrace: love the One
5. Trust: live the blank
6. Thank: find fulfillment

Q: What is the first of six steps to move forward and meet God in the humdrum moments of everyday existence?

The first step is to look. Most importantly of all, we must learn to use the Scriptures as a lens through which we see every situation. Until we see as God sees, nothing will make sense. We will go through life stumbling and fumbling until we learn to see all things through the truth of God’s Word. In my opinion, this is the biggest deficiency in the American church. We don’t know God’s Word. We’re shallow. We go through the motions of religiosity and church attendance, but we don’t truly know the Word of God and let it soak into our souls and permeate every part of our being. God’s Word isn’t the end all — He is — but it is through the Scriptures we learn to see as He sees.

Q: Can you share your simple approach to scripture and reading the Bible?

Look through the Word to see everything else. As we study the Scriptures every day, we don’t evaluate them, standing over them as a judge; we receive them. That is, we don’t overly concern ourselves with some big, new revelation no one has seen before. We don’t have to know Greek or Hebrew or do the latest Bible study. We simply need to sit like a child at His feet, opening up God’s Word and determining we will do whatever we read, no matter what. Our aptitude for the Word matters less than our attitude toward the Word.

Q: How do we listen to and discern God’s voice in our daily life?

First by getting into the Scripture so we know what He sounds like. I know the sound of my husband’s tires on the gravel outside our house. How do I know? It’s a different tires-on-gravel sound than any other car, and I’ve heard it so many times that I’ve learned to discern it throughout time. There are a lot of voices out there: the world, the enemy, my own thoughts and emotions. The only way to discern what God’s voice sounds like is to practice listening and see if it lines up with the Word of God. The more time we spend in the Word, sit quietly and listen in prayer, obey what we hear, and take steps of faith to do anything He asks of us, the more we increase our ability to hear from Him.

Q: Step three in the process is engaging. How exactly do you engage with God in the monotony of life?

At any given moment throughout my day, I have the choice whether I will engage and enter in or draw back, escape, and check out. We can do this in many ways: by ignoring a difficult situation, avoiding conflict, not dealing with a child who needs discipline, getting on my phone and mindlessly scrolling through social media, sitting and vegging in front of my TV shows, eating, shopping, or staying so busy I don’t have to deal with hard things. But when we stop, slow down, and engage, we step into the hard, mundane, and ordinary moment. We learn to commune with God in the midst of it, asking Him how He wants us to respond to any given situation. We have an opportunity to see Him in the midst of the ordinary, but not if we’re checked out on our phones.

Kari Patterson, author of "Sacred Mundane"

Q: Who did God put into your life to teach you about loving people? What did you learn from opening the door and letting her in?

God placed a young woman on our doorstep who was homeless, addicted to drugs, and struggling with severe mental illness and PTSD from abuse. I let her in, and she lived with us for a time. I learned loving people is messy, and we don’t always do it perfect. However, that isn’t the point. I also discovered addiction and homelessness are complex issues. Most importantly, I learned the only answer is the gospel and about the love and accountability of gospel community through the Church. People can never become projects, and loving others always includes a cost. Jesus paid the greatest cost ever out of love for us, and He calls us to love others in that same generous, selfless, costly way.

Q: Why is it hard for us to trust God and His plans for us?

It’s hard to trust God’s plan for us because we can’t see the end! We are control freaks, especially in this culture where we have (or think we have) so much perceived control. For example, most of us aren’t farmers with huge variations in crops from year to year. Instead, we get a regular paycheck, often a fixed salary, and have five-year plans, big buffers on our savings accounts. We have climate control in our homes and cars and have gates and locks on our doors. We like to make our own plans so we feel in control. Trusting God is hard because He usually doesn’t give us much advanced notice. In fact, He often makes it look as if everything is disastrous before He swoops in and fulfills His promises. He does this so our faith, more precious than gold, will be tested and found pure. He knows the greatest joy, peace, and transformation happens when we learn to quit trying to be God and let Him be all.

Q: What is the final step of discovering God in the mundane?

The sixth step is to thank, and that’s most certainly the culmination of the Godward, worshipful life. We all know we’re supposed to be thankful, and perhaps we’ve written gift lists and tried to count our blessings. Still we struggle with this nagging feeling of disappointment and frustration. Often we think if we’re truly spiritual or if we’re good Christians, then we won’t feel disappointment. We sing, “You’re never gonna let me down,” but if we’re honest, we often feel disappointed and let down by God. What do we do with that disappointment? In this chapter we discuss two cycles, the disappointment cycle and the fulfillment cycle, and look at the difference between expectancy and expectation. We look at the lives of seven godly men and women in the Scriptures who all experienced profound disappointment as part of God’s glorious plan for their lives. Here we learn the secret to seeing God’s fulfillment, learn to cast aside our flimsy handmade expectations, and learn to squint the eyes of our souls to see God in the darkness.

Then we finish our time together in the book by emphasizing the importance of letting our lives be poured out in worship to God for the sake of others. Transformation is really all about bearing fruit, and fruit was meant to be picked. The purpose of fruit is not to preen. Trees don’t take selfies of their fruit. The purpose of fruit is to nourish others by the beauty and nutrients. When our lives are transformed, the world is blessed. Sadly, we often divorce these two aspects of the Christian life — sanctification and mission. I’d insist they are one and the same. As we are sanctified, we are more effective in carrying out the mission of God, and as we carry out the mission of God, we are sanctified, made more like Christ. This book isn’t about naval-gazing, self-focus, or being all we were meant to be simply for the purpose of looking better. The point is freedom, purpose, and joy, for the glory of God and the good of the world. The point is to display the goodness and glory of God to a world in desperate need of His hope. That’s the point.

Q: Tell us more about the nine-session small-group Bible study included in the book.

The Bible study can be used by individuals or as a group study. It is great for a summer book club, meeting informally in someone’s living room, or a church’s women’s weekly Bible study (large or small). All that’s needed is included in the book, so it’s ideal for a low-cost, easy-to-facilitate, nine-week study.

Learn more about Sacred Mundane and read Patterson’s Sacred Mundane blog at She is also active on Facebook (sacredmundane) and Twitter (@sacredmundane).

Posted 10/6/17 at 5:31 AM | June Samuel

The Freshness of the Gospel

Whenever I read The Acts of the Apostles chapter 2 verses 41 – 47, I always yearn to see that “freshness” of the gospel among us believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. That excitement and innocence those very early believers had. They accepted the teachings of the Apostles and acted upon them. They were excited about their salvation. They were excited about their new way of living and about their deliverance from sin. They were overjoyed regarding their new found faith.

They were glad, happy and full of enthusiasm. They joyfully met with each other. Many open their homes to break bread and eat together. The believers who had possessions sold them and shared the funds with those who were in need. Except for Annias and Saphira, who lied to the Apostles and fell dead. (Read Acts 5:1-11)

 Acts Chapter 2:46 tells us, “they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” “Simplicity of heart” – what exactly does that mean? Their hearts were gullible to the Gospel. They were genuine in their behaviors. They saw and heard of the various signs and wonders that were performed by the Apostles. They accepted the teaching of the Apostles as it was delivered. They did not second guess or dispute what they heard, as many of us do today. They took the teachings to heart and acted upon them. The whole written Word of God is authored by God. We ought to respect it, love it, obey it and in so doing be joyful. FULL POST

Posted 9/27/17 at 8:29 AM | Greg Gordon

The Sin of Envy

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. - Philippians 2:6

When we are looking to progress in our understanding of the Lord we must look to the heart and what dwells within. Of all the least talked about sins in our day, Envy is near the top of the list. Perhaps one of the greatest roots of envy is the jealously that God is God and we are not. Such evil desires that desires more then what is given or deserved becomes a distortion of love and therefore is the opposite of love. Thomas Aquinas says of Envy: "Envy according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life. Charity rejoices in our neighbor's good, while envy grieves over it."

Envy is as old as Adam and Eve. Their firstborn son Cain envied Abel and killed him over extreme jealously. Cain envied Abel because God favored Abel's sacrifice over Cain's. Envy defiles a person and makes them hideous always seeking to put down others that they may be exalted. Of course this is not how it looks on the outside, it can even appear holy but inwardly the desires are evil. Saul envied David (1 Samuel 18:5-9). Isaac, envied the Philistines (Genesis 26:12-16). FULL POST

Posted 9/26/17 at 8:01 PM | Kyle Beshears

About Your “Boring” Conversion Story

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the lives of Christians that God converted through his Spirit, discipleship, and the book of Romans. The testimonies of these men are phenomenal and very moving.

Augustine’s story was colorful and is, perhaps, very familiar to many people. He was skeptical of Christianity, despite being raised by a Christian mother. Instead, he pursued the high life through womanizing and jetting through his career as a rockstar professor in Rome. But God had different plans. In his early thirties, Augustine came to know the Lord and went on to do incredible things for the church. Augustine’s is an incredible sinner-to-saint story.

Luther’s story was equally moving. After making a weird deal with God to save his life during a thunderstorm, Luther would spend years in a monastery fasting, working, and beating himself to death. He did so because he felt that he owed God. To Luther, God was an angry, capricious bully; Jesus was nothing more than a “terrible judge.” It wasn’t until after an eye-opening trip to Rome—at a time when corruption ran rampant in the Catholic Church—and steady discipleship did Luther come to know Christ’s righteousness by God’s grace alone. Luther would go on to spark the Protestant Reformation, a time that reemphasized a core gospel truth (salvation by faith alone) and forever reshaped Western civilization. Luther’s is an amazing legalist-to-saint story. FULL POST

Posted 9/13/17 at 8:51 AM | Greg Gordon

Disagreements in Christian Life

If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. - Galatians 5:15

It is unbelievable at times to see how even believers can disagree. One side sticks their feet in and the other side does also. No one is budging or willing to say they are wrong, both are right! Or so they think. Disagreements also happen in marriages, Churches and ministries.

The world is helplessly divided as people have strong opinions on so many different topics and choices in life. These strong beliefs people have even come to the place where hurtful actions are taken against each other because of our desires to be right and have our own way (James 4:1).

Many people are divided and hurt over differences in the body of Christ also as the Apostle James wrote to believers who were "warring" against each other. All these differences result in hurt lives, divided believers and the world looking on in shock and amazement at this scene. When we can claim to believe in the greatest news in the world that men can be freed from their sins and point to this life-giving Saviour but in the same breath speak evil of our other brethren that have been redeemed we bring a reproach to the world. FULL POST

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