Thursday, April 30, 2015

Encourage Now!

~The Challenge to Encourage Others Daily~ 



This May I challenge you to use your words to encourage others. Every single day. At least one person. Even when you don't feel like it. Even when you think they don't deserve it. 

You can encourage someone more than you think and get encouraged yourself. Share your stories in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter with the hash tag #encouragenow. Won't it be awesome to hear how God used us to encourage those around us? 

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. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

Every day this month. At least one person every day. 

Are you ready? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

We. Are. Loved.

~Tuesday Thoughts~


Nancy Rue has just started a mini-series on her blog about self-respect. Note: not self-obsession. Self-respect. Respecting the person God made us to be.

It's a very important topic for those who feel like they can't measure up. Here are the three posts so far: A Little Respect, First Move Toward Self-Respect: Changing The Language, and Second Move Toward Self-Respect: Enough With The Name-Calling.

Hawk Nelson has a great song on this: "Live Like You're Loved. " Here are the lyrics.

We are indeed loved by the Creator of the Universe. Let's live like it and share the news!

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

How about you? Do you feel worthless sometimes? What helps you to remember that God is always with you?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Your words matter

~Monday Movies & Music~


"Speak Life" by TobyMac (lyrics) and "Words" by Hawk Nelson (lyrics) are pretty great songs. My favorite of the two is the second one.

God's Word calls us to use our words wisely. It's a hard thing to do, but together with God we can do anything.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6 (NIV)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

He'll never forsake us

~Saturday Stories~


Not too long ago I entered a contest on Go Teen Writers. Here is my entry:

Kassie flew herself down on the bed silently vowing to never get up. Then she did just that and picked up the trash from the floor, straightened up the bookshelf, and flung the dirty socks into the hamper across the room. She heard a light knock, and Michael slid the door open. “Kassie,” he cleared his throat. “Do me a favor and get out of the house.” Kassie fingered a half-finished cross-stitch pattern and then eased herself into a chair. “You know I can't.” She could hardly glance around the tiny room without remembering whose it was – or used to be. Michael bent down and peered into her face. “Rest.” “No.” Deep sighs escaped them at the same time. Kassie smiled sheepishly. After a moment she leaned in and kissed her husband. “I will. I promise. Someday.” He chuckled. “It’ll be a hard time, dear. But He’ll get us through.”

Isn't it amazing that, whatever we're going through, God will always be there? He will never leave us - even when it's hard.

"God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]" Hebrews 13:5b (NIV)

Amen!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Others first

~Friday for Friends~


"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

I think this is a very very hard thing for us to do. The way we look at it, the first thing we should do is get ourselves comfortable. If we help someone in the process -good, but that's not the focus. So wrong.

Let's try to work on that, on putting others first. We have a great example - Jesus Christ (verse)!!!

  "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

  Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
  rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
  And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)

How about you? What can you do for others today?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

So many stories

~Tuesday Thoughts~


The world's a big place. Last week my Dad and I took a trip to a big city- more than 10 million people. Wherever you looked there seemed to be people. Mothers with children, men off to work, young adults off to work or to college. Or somewhere. Because you really never knew. There was about zero chance you'd see these people again and, as seems to be the custom, there wasn't much interaction between the people on the streets unless they were in a group already.

It is marvelous to see so many people and to realize that each one has a story. His/her own story, full of joys and trials, laughter and tears. Who are their friends? Do they have kids? Where do they work? What makes them laugh?

God created each and every one of these people. If He knows when a sparrow falls, how much more does He know about each of us?

"For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!" Ezekiel 18:32 (NIV)

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[a]" Romans 10:14-15 (NIV)

God wants us to know and to share the grand news of His love. Who can you share it with today? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

I am not alone

~Monday Movies & Music~


"I am Not Alone"? is a song by Kari Jobe. Here are the lyrics.

Our God will definitely never leave us. How amazing is that?!

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Jesus, Matthew 28:20b (NIV)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Heart to Heart by Sandra Byrd

~Saturday Stories~


Typical Tess: Great. Even Marcia had friends, someone to sit with. After finishing her burger, Tess placed her tray on the dish return. She took her paperback outside with her and sat alone. Fifth grade all over again.

Tess Thomas just started sixth grade. It's going to be the perfect year now that she has a best friend. Or does she?

Wanting to look good for her first time at youth group, Tess "borrows" her mom's earrings. Okay, so maybe she should have asked, but it can't be that bad, right? Until she loses them...


Heart to Heart holds two stories of a sixth-grader Tess, who struggles with problems many tween girls face. What should one do when the girl who promised to be friends forever turns your back on you? Is it okay to hurt others, but then make it up later? Can you earn forgiveness?

Sandra Byrd weaves lessons of faith into Tess's life. By the end of the second story, Tess has given her life to God. At times it felt like the scenes were too "ordinary" and didn't contribute to the story much. However, this is still a book that can propel tweens and young teens to live out their faith.

This is the first volume in the Secret Sisters series. The others are Accidental Angel, Double Dare, Backdoor Bridesmaid, Camp Cowgirl, and Picture Perfect. Each contain two stories.

For more on Sandra Byrd, visit her website and Facebook page.

Friday, April 17, 2015

An ever-faithful Friend

~Friday for Friends~


Recently I've read the story of David and Jonathan. The friendship those two had is almost unbelievable. Especially in Jonathan's case. His father, king Saul, outright told him that if David was kept alive Jonathan would never have the kingdom. But did that harden his heart? Did he turn away from David? No way. Jonathan was faithful to the end.

You might have a friend like that. Or maybe you are one yourself. But even if you don't, you can know that God can be your friend. More faithful than anyone can be, the Creator of the universe wants you to be His friend. He will never ever leave you. Amen!

"God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]" Hebrews 13:5b (NIV)

How about you? Have you experienced a friendship similar to that of David and Jonathan? Have you experienced God's friendship? What is something He has done for you this week?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The peace I've so longed for

~Tuesday Thoughts~


I burrow deep
Into the covers.
I don’t want to get out;
It hurts too much.
The pain it gnaws.
The fear it strangles.
And I am left
With nothing at all.

I've tried again,
And again I've tried
To get out of this mess
By my own strength.
It doesn’t work;
It doesn’t pay.
I'm left alone
Yet another day.

So I give my fears
Oh, so reluctantly
To the One who says
He cares about me.
I give my hopes, my dreams,
But quake inwardly.
What will He do with them?
Will He comfort me?

And He wraps me
With His strong arms.
He lets me grasp Him,
Gets me out of the struggle.
He lets me fall into
The peace I've so longed for.
Now I know He cares;
I know I'm not alone.


How about you? Have you given your problems to God? How has he helped you? 

Monday, April 13, 2015

God's not dead!!!

~Monday Movies & Music~


Last weekend our family got to see the much-talked-over movie "God's Not Dead." We LOVED it. From the story of the girl hiding her faith from her Muslim dad to Amy finding out she has cancer, the stories were beautiful and touching.

There were a few technicalities that could have been changed, like developing the character of Josh's girlfriend more and not having everybody stand up. However, the movie was really awesome and inspirational.

OUR GOD IS NOT DEAD!

How about you? Have you watched the movie? What did you think of it? Who can you tell today that our God is not dead?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Prayer is a strong wall" and more quotes

~Saturday Stories~


"Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church; it is a goodly Christian weapon." -Martin Luther

"The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, 'O God, forgive me,' or 'Help me.'" -Billy Graham



"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." -Mother Teresa

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling 'darkness' on the wall of his cell." - C.S. Lewis

How about you? Which quotes do you like best? Which topic is closer to your heart? Can you share some quotes that touch you?

Friday, April 10, 2015

From enemy to friend

~Friday for Friends~


"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

We used to be enemies of God. We used to want to do everything our own way and rejected our Maker.

But God has loved us so much that He has made us His friends! He has paid the price and now we can be His.

"For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:10 (NIV)

It is the most beautiful act ever done. Let's praise God for His mercy and love!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Redemption

~Tuesday Thoughts~


"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)

Last Sunday was Easter. The day we remember Jesus's amazing death and resurrection. It is unbelievable how much God loves us!

We now have redemption through His blood! Let us not forget that even as the Easter "season" ends.

How about you? Do you find God's sacrifice amazing? Who can you share it with?

Monday, April 6, 2015

I will follow

~Monday Movies & Music~


"I will follow" by Chris Tomlin is a beautiful song. Here are the lyrics.

"As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him." Matthew 9:9 (NIV)

Are we ready to follow our Savior? What can we do for Him today?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Millie’s Unsettled Season by Martha Finley; adaption written by Kersten Hamilton

~Saturday Stories~


“Oh, Aunt Wealthy,” Millie cried. ... “It’s decided!” “My child, what is it?” asked the older lady, dropping the letter to take the girl’s hand and draw her to the sofa. “What is decided?” Millie spoke with a determined effort to be calm. “This morning at breakfast, Pappa told us- us children, I mean- he and Mamma had talked it over last night, and you know they have been praying about it, and…” “And?” Wealthy clasped Millie’s hand to her heart. “We are going to move … to…to… Pleasant Plains, Indiana.” “The frontier!” Wealthy gasped, sinking back on the coach.

In 1833, 12-year-old Millie Keith’s family is moving from their comfortable house in Lansdale, Ohio to Indiana, the frontier. Millie is leaving everything she has ever known behind. A trip so far in the 1830s is perilous. Even if all her seven siblings get to Pleasant Planes safely, Millie isn’t certain it will ever feel like home.


Genre: Historical, adventure. For girls ages 10-14. Issues dealt with: family relationships, friendships, trust in God, obedience to God, outreach, standing up for your faith, being nice to others, moving.

In Millie's Unsettled Season Millie struggles to understand God’s plan for her. But, looking at her parents and great-aunt as brilliant examples, Millie constantly grows in her faith. She gets into heated discussions about the joy of being God’s children and looking at others as God would. Millie is an excellent example of standing up for your faith and helping others. Even when she does do wrong, she understands it, asks God and others to forgive her.

This is book 1 of the 8 books in the A Life of Faith: Millie Keith series. The others are Millie's Courageous DaysMillie's Remarkable JourneyMillie's Faithful Heart, Millie's Steadfast LoveMillie's Grand Adventure, Millie's Reluctant Sacrifice, and Millie's Fiery Trial.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

Learn more about Martha Finley, the 19th century author of the story. For more on Kersten Hamilton, who beautifully adapted Finley's story, visit her website.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Rejoice with others

~Friday for Friends~


"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15 (NIV)

I think most people would agree that a friend should be understanding in times of trouble. It's important to us that when we feel down there's someone to hold out a hand.

But there's another aspect of being friends, which can, at times, seem much harder to do.

Rejoicing. However absurd it might sound at first, when we dig deep it IS pretty hard to rejoice at times. Your friend blissfully shares about his trip to Egypt while you recount the days you spent sitting in front of a TV. He gets an "A" in a test you know you studied harder for. She wins that contest that you secretly hoped to place in.

Yes, it's hard sometimes to rejoice when others seem to get it much easier than you do. But it's worth it. Smile and say it's awesome she had such a good time. Give a high five when he gets that "A". And maybe later come up and share how you're feeling.

As friends, you can share both the joys and the pains.

How about you? When was a time you found it hard to rejoice? How did the situation go?