Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Right where we are

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”" John 4:21-24 (NIV)

This is part of Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman. How wonderful that story is! And how amazing is it that we don't have to go somewhere to worship our Father, but can do that in spirit, right where we are! 

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

How about you? Have you ever felt that you need to be in church to pray? Where do you feel closest to God?  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Without You

~Monday Movies & Music~


Ashes Remain has a beautiful song, "Without You." Here are the lyrics

"'I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.'" John 15:5 (NIV)

We are nothing without Christ. He is our everything. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Thieves of Tyburn Square by Dave and Neta Jackson

~Saturday Stories~


Typical Betsey: "Hot tears sprang to Betsey's eyes. Why were the people so mean? Why was the judge sending her mother away? Would she ever see her again? And what were she and Loren going to do now?"


Betsey's mom has been sent away to Botany Bay, "the gateway to a living hell," for stealing. Now Betsey and Loren, her older brother, have to survive by themselves. They are sent to one of London's workhouses, where they are extremely overworked. But then they are caught for stealing, and the real struggle begins. Is there no one at all who will look on them with kindness and help them?


The Thieves of Tyburn Square is part of the Trailblazer series. This book doesn’t really have God at the center of everything, but it does show how a life can change through contact with Christians. It introduces the historical Quaker Elizabeth Fry and makes history interesting.

For more on Dave and Neta Jackson visit their website and Facebook page.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Telling others

~Friday for Friends~


Britt Nicole has an awesome song, "The Lost Get Found." Here are the lyrics

"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”" Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

Who can you tell about Christ today? Do you have a friend - or an enemy or someone you really are indifferent about- that needs to hear the good news of Christ's death and resurrection? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Boiling emotions, confused thoughts

~Tuesday Thoughts~


Sometimes life is extremely hard. We try to make it livable, but it doesn't seem to work. We pretend that everything's okay. We smile and loftily avoid the "how are you doing?" question. Or we give white lies. We're doing okay, aren't we? For sure no one needs to know how broken and confused we are. How many times we have cried in the safety of our bedroom. Except, is it even safe, if that's when the suicidal thoughts come in? If that's when we tell ourselves we're worthless? Where should our worth come from anyway? And why does it seem that everything that used to define us is suddenly lost? Who are we when everybody who used to care has moved on? Are we supposed to move on after having feelings for someone who will probably never have feelings for us? What are we supposed to do with the anger that keeps arising when we don't get what we've been promised? Why do we promise way more than we can do? What are we supposed to do when we don't measure up to our own standards?  

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
  My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[b]
  Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.[c]
  In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
  To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame. Psalm 22:1-5 (NIV)

No matter how confusing, annoying, harsh, and depressing life can get, we can always lean on God. This might seem like an overused statement, but God is really always there. He does not have to care for us. He wants to. He has never left His children before; the world is full of stories of His amazing love and grace. There is absolutely no one who will always have our back except Him. His unfailing mercy won't fail on us. We can cry out to Him and know that He hears our cry - or our yell. He will answer. Perhaps not when and how we want Him to, but He will answer. Amen? Amen!

Monday, May 23, 2016

This is living

~Monday Movies & Music~


Hillsong Young and Free has a pretty great song featuring Lecrae: "This is Living." Here are the lyrics.

"'... the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”  Nehemiah 8:10b (NIV)

"'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'" John 10:10 (NIV)

We can live life to a fuller extent than we ever dreamed of - through God. What a wonderful truth!  

Saturday, May 21, 2016

"I might need some help" and more quotes

~Saturday Stories~


 "Oh, God, help me to figure this all out. And help me to be true to you. I love you, God. I want to choose you above all else. But I might need some help. Amen." - Caitlin, Becoming Me

"I don't think I really started to heal until I forced myself to talk about it, to share the details. I hate to think of what might have happened, of the stunted person I might have become, if I hadn't opened up." - Amy, So Over It



"I'm yours now, God. I guess I always have been, haven't I?"- Grey, Jupiter Winds

"God, help me ... Please, please, help me, dear God. I know that something is wrong with me, and it's probably all my fault for the way I've been treating my body. I've been stupid, God. I'm sorry. Please, help me, God. I want to change. I'll do my best. I don't want to die." - Emily, Faded Denim

How about you? Have you asked God for help in choosing Him over everything else? Have you shared with someone about a hard time in your life? Have you treated your body as you should? Are you ready to say that you are God's?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friends you can share with

~Friday for Friends~


Last week I went somewhere with three of my friends. We had a pretty good time, all in all. But one of the best things about being with close friends is that you can share some of the things about you that are not "pretty" and sometimes are downright wrong. And they listen. 

  "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

Are you somebody's close friend? Do you have a close friend who encourages you in your Christian walk? I pray that, if you don't have one, God will soon bring one into your life.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Change is coming -fast!

~Tuesday Thoughts~


The school year is nearing an end, and about 25% of all high school kids are getting ready for a huge change: college. So many teenagers also have different changes looming on the horizon. For me, change is a pretty hard thing. And sometimes I wonder how I can ever pass a new challenge, whatever it is. But I know one thing - God has seen me through hard times before and He will continue to do that. Amen! 

""Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”" Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

How about you? Is a change coming up for you? What is a change that you have lived through with God's help? Please share! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

My God is near

~Monday Movies & Music~


Moriah Peters has a song, "Oh Fear" ("My God Is Near"). Here are the lyrics.


"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]" Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

How about you? Does fear keep you from doing what is right? Do you keep on doing things you know are wrong? Can you give your fears to God?  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Help me be okay with that

~Saturday Stories~


I realize that this is a song from a girl's perspective. I hope you don't mind.


Lord, I can't do this without You, can't do this without you
I really want him to hold me, really want him to hold me
But if he never does, oh, if he never does
Help me be okay with that, Lord,
Help me be okay with that, Lord

It truly hurts every time it gets to me
That he's not looking, he's not looking at me
He's talking with that girl, hugging with that one
I want to be the one in his arms.
No eye contact for more than a second,
No smile or even asking how I'm doing,
No high five, no pat on the back,
Oh, I do want to be the one in his arms,
Does he not see that? Does he not see that?

Lord, I can't do this without You, can't do this without you 
I really want him to hold me, really want him to hold me
But if he never does, oh, if he never does 
Help me be okay with that, Lord, 
Help me be okay with that, Lord

How about you? Have you had a tough time with or without a boyfriend/girlfriend? How has God seen you through? 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sharpening one another

~Friday for Friends~


  "As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

As the NIV Study Bible Notes say this is talking about developing and changing another's character. Who do you know that you can "sharpen?" Who can you be sharpened by? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Encouragement vs. criticism

~Tuesday Thoughts~


 “Shut up!” “No, YOU shut up!” “I can’t stand this anymore!” “Why do I even talk to you?” “Who do you think you are?” “Leave me alone! Just leave me alone!” 
    
 If you’ve ever been in a fight, you know what it sounds like. At least two people screaming at the top of their lungs, ready to tear each other down, yelling like they can’t wait to see the other’s funeral. Then throwing their hands in the air and stomping out of the room. And by the end of it, we’re so spent we’ll count a meager “um, sorry, friends?” a victory. About ten hours later the whole thing might very well go on repeat. 
     
  But what if, instead of being satisfied with sloppy attempts to not scream, we actually looked at the Bible to teach us how to speak? And not just in fights, but all the time? I want to focus on one aspect of our everyday conversations: encouragement vs. tearing down. 

  One of the many verses on the topic is 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV), “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” It is hard to overestimate the importance of encouragement in our day-to-day lives. One of my favorite memories from my junior year in high school is receiving my April ACT scores. It was a pretty good result, but that was hardly the best part. When the results came and I told my dad what they were, he was SO proud and happy. For someone for whom words are their second love language and their father’s words are worth tons, that was one of the best things he could have gave me. 
   
   On the other hand, criticism can upset and depress a person way more than we think. The comments that fly out of our mouths before we think twice can wound people. A story my dad shares when he preaches or speaks about encouragement is a story of my brother at soccer practice years back. During practice, Albert scored about three goals. This was not a game, but it was still pretty cool for a 6-8-year-old boy. He came over to his coach and proudly asked, “Did you see me score those three goals?” But what does the coach say in return? “Well, you missed four more opportunities.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” 

   This encouragement does not have to be about something huge. I am not just talking about congratulating people after shows or for their beautiful art project that took three weeks to complete. Yes, we should talk about those too, but I want to emphasize is the smaller things. Tell somebody they look good today. Remind them that they have a friend who’ll listen. Pat them on the back when it looks like they’re disappointed with themselves. Tell them you see how much effort they’re putting into something and you value that. Describe to someone why you love their personality. Tell them that, even if life doesn’t seem to make sense at the moment, God will never let them go.
   
   Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) declares, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I hope we all look around us and see each other’s value, the value that is based solely on the fact that we are made by God and in God’s image. I hope we take the time and energy to remind each other of that value.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Beautiful

~Monday Movies & Music~


Francesca Battistelli has a great song, "Beautiful, Beautiful." Here are the lyrics.  

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (NIV)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Our God's love for us is incredible! Praise Him today! 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

~Saturday Stories~


Typical Merry: "...but in the end [her father] had let her down. For what? His principles. Sound principles to be sure.... But they had done little good. Merry would hold to one principle only: Do whatever it takes to protect these children."

Typical Timothy: "Yes, he would capture the leaders of the ghosts. He had worked too hard and too long for his position to give it all up now."

Typical Allen: "Indeed, [Merry] had a soft side Allen's errant heart wished to explore. He quelled the thought before it could fully form.... Merry was nobility. He was not. Such matters should be simple."


Two years. Two years have passed since King John destroyed a village because of Merry's father's "evil" plans against the truly evil king. These two years Merry has been taking care of numerous children who escaped that village. Yes, sometimes they steal, but when your own existence is against the law, you do what you have to to survive. But things get too close to danger when one of the nearby scribes purposes to find the acclaimed thieves no matter what it takes.

Dauntless, a retelling of the Robin Hood story, teaches about trusting God rather than ourselves. It is an intriguing read that keeps the reader turning pages, wondering about what will happen next and how everything could possibly get settled.


This is the first in the Valiant Hearts series. The second and third books are Chivalrous and Courageous.

For more on Dina L. Sleiman visit her website and Facebook page.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Do to others

~Friday for Friends~


"'Do to others as you would have them do to you.'" Luke 6:31(NIV)

What if we actually tried to do this? What if we really stopped to think about what we were about to do and what effect it would have on others? What if we remembered what Christ did for us and tried to reflect Him in this world?
 ........................................
What if we obeyed Luke 6:31?  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

No unwholesome talk

~Tuesday Thoughts~ 


"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Lately I have failed at this miserably. But with God's help, we can always do better. Please, help, God!

How about you? What does your speech look like?

Monday, May 2, 2016

God is on the move

~Monday Movies & Music~


7eventh Time Down has a good song, "God Is On the Move." Here are the lyrics

  "You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas," Psalm 65:5 (NIV)

Our God is doing amazing deeds. Yes, terrible things happen, but our God is still in control. Even in the heartache, God will always, always be there. Lately many adults from our church have told me that they will be there for me when I go off to college. That is so encouraging, yet it is just one of the many ways God has blessed me. Praise to Him only!  

How about you? What has God been doing in your life? Do you praise Him?