The road is hard, temptations will come, life is short, eternity is for real, people are not perfect. These things may seem obvious to some, but my gut tells me they’re not obvious to everyone. Or maybe you just need to be reminded . . .
Do you feel like your life is on hold, like you've been forgotten, like nothing exciting ever happens to you? Think again. Today is simply the time God is preparing you for. Don't believe me? Check out the prophet Elijah's story.
If only spiritual transformation were that easy. Just read a book, see a
counselor, attend a conference, make a fresh commitment, shed a few
tears at an altar, memorize a few verses . . . and, presto, out comes a mature, godly Christian.
I'm entering a season of life where I’m really being stretched: physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. I hate to admit it, but some of it is due to the age I've reached (sigh). It comes with its set of issues--sleepless nights, crazy temperature extremes (some nights my husband thinks I may internally combust), along with a middle-age weight battle.
Imagine you’ve never been to church before. Never heard of Jesus. Never read the Bible. You notice a lot of cars pulling into a building. You’re not sure what the fuss is all about. You decide to check it out.
Sometimes I look at the landscape of my life and see nothing but wide open fields. No mountains or valleys, no beachfront properties. Just wide open fields that span the horizon as far as my eyes can follow without a hint of wind in sight. Do you ever feel that way? You realize that you're not getting married anytime soon. You're not about to have a baby. You've already graduated from college and have what you thought was your dream job. You're part of a good church. Life is good, or at least good enough. You're not going anywhere anytime soon, and the future looks--well--there.
You just never know what a day—or a weekend—might hold. I
was gearing up for some much-needed R&R yesterday afternoon when my boss spontaneously
asked if I’d like to LIVE blog The Gospel Coalition’s 2012 National Women’s Conference
today through Sunday. And although my body craved a couple of
around-the-clock-zzzz’s, my soul craved a fresh vision of God even more. And
that is the story of how, less than 24 hours later, I found myself in Orlando, Florida,
home of Sea World, Universal Studios, and just about every other fun theme park
you can imagine.
All their lives, these people had missed God. Something deep inside them had always wanted to be with Him and now here He was. So they sat a while and spent time with the One who could see past the facade, right into all their brimming ache. They were hungry and His words fed them. They were soul-shattered and His words made them whole.
I searched for a visual picture that would help me understand. If everything flows from the presence of God, how could I live in God's presence? A speaker at a women's conference supplied the illustration . . .
Everyday I do all this cleaning. And it really doesn't matter how spic-n-span I get things the day before, a new day comes and it's not long at all before we've got a big ole' mess on our hands. And quite honestly, I get kinda tired of it. It wears me out. But, I've been learning something pretty cool . . .
Logophile or not, you'll appreciate this short video. In it, Nancy's friends get a little boisterous when she drops the word "obstreperous" into the conversation. Click play to learn what this word means, as well as to be reminded of the power of the WORD to transform any and all obstreperous women!
My mom was an emotional wreck due to guilt over bad decisions; my dad was a heavy drug user. There was a moment in my childhood (actually more than one) when the fragile alliance we called "our family" was on the brink of breakup.
What deeply touched me was when Jay said in the video below that he's received letters from parents who said that their children were relieved of their night terrors and nightmares when they listened to these songs. Check out these videos below to learn more. More importantly, take a few minutes to be encouraged and soothed in your own busy day. I'm sure you'll end up a fan, as well.
He notices your simple acts of service, your every tearful trial, your struggles, and your failures. He notices your humble acts of obedience and He notes every step of faith. No one else may see, but He does.
God's grace is like an ambulance that races to the point of our need the minute a call for help is made. But if we don't call, the ambulance doesn't come. If we refuse to admit our desperate neediness, we forfeit the grace that could have been ours.
I thought being a good Christian meant keeping a lot of rules (don't drink, don't have sex before marriage, don't cheat on tests or taxes, don't, don't, don't). So I didn't. And that made me feel good and proud about myself.
Somehow I always knew the standard was perfection. Maybe it's because I am a firstborn. Or maybe it's because I was raised on the Bible. Either way, I knew I didn't measure up to God's holy standard. Sadly, it took me years to realize that Jesus was the source of my perfection . . .
I try to keep my heart fixed on Christ, and one practical way I do that is by using visual reminders. In fact, I’d love to take you on a tour of my home. In lieu of a YouTube video, please join me on a “blog post tour” and use your imagination as you “drop by” for a visit!
Daily devotions was not something my parents forced on us, but the influence of my dad’s example and training in this area was profound. Although he has been with the Lord since 1979, the image of a dad on his knees before the Lord is indelibly etched on my mind and in my heart.
I remember a time when a friend was relating to me some difficulties in her life. I asked her, "What does the resurrection mean in this situation?" She answered, "I know it should mean something, but I don't know what." Most of us are there. We know that the resurrection is important but we haven't connected it with our daily lives.
What does all this mean for us? What difference do the Cross and the empty tomb make for those who are facing pain or tears or failure? Here are some of the implications of that momentous weekend for people like you and me.
I'm sure my scream took the phone from her ear. I'd asked for a boy. They'd long wanted a boy and thought their child birthing years were past. A boy. A good gift from the faithful Father. But that wasn't her only news. Pre-cancerous cells on her back.
You’ve been there, too, I know. You encounter disappointment, heartbreak, or hardship, and think, “God must not love me” or “I’m not worth anything” or “My circumstances will never change—this will go on forever!”
I’m realizing it’s possible for those of us who love Jesus to find ourselves in a similar place. We can push harder and harder until we become so spiritually, emotionally, and physically exhausted that we feel like we have nothing left to give.
According to Wikipedia, one in seven couples have problems in conceiving a baby. When you're facing a childless future, how do you know what's right when it comes to infertility treatments? Should you seek medical help? What kinds are okay? Is it even biblical?
A snow-blanketed junk yard or trash heap looks as beautiful as rolling hills or a pine forest because all you can see is the snow. The same is true for the trash heap that is our lives. The mess we’ve made of things becomes quiet and peaceful when it is covered over by a blanket of God’s grace. What was visible the day before is now forgotten as our once scarlet sins are made white as snow.
"I think we are all basically entitlement freaks. Here's a good test question to find out if you've made progress in humility and gratitude: Ask yourself, 'Am I surprised that my spouse loves me? Do I think I am such a good 'catch' that of course my spouse should love me?'"
Not long into the message I began to get a little uncomfortable. My discomfort increased as the preacher began a tirade against certain individuals, even referring to them as “idiots.” Years later, I don’t have a clue what his text or his point was, but I can clearly recall this preacher’s critical words.
If you’re not feelin’ it, the answer isn’t to make Him prove His love apart from His sacrifice on the cross, but to pour over those moments when He “put skin” to His love and bled and sufferedfor you, in your place.
"I cannot begin to express to you how Jesus has changed my life. I am so filled with love and joy that I am
unrecognizable to even my husband. There literally is not one aspect of
my life that has not been completely changed. I didn’t know joy until I knew Jesus."
When I want to do
well, want things to go my way, or even want to succeed for my own glory,
I sometimes run to Jesus like I would a lucky rabbit’s foot or pre-game
ritual. And when life throws me a curveball, I find myself wondering
“Where were you on that one.”
This Christmas, one of my gifts came a little early. Exactly two weeks before her due date, and two days before we were planning to leavefor the nine-hour trek to their home for Christmas, my daughter called to tell me early labor had begun!
Does Scripture memory sound like “just another thing to do” on an already overwhelming to-do list? What if you learned it was one of the greatest weapons with which to battle discouragement and depression in your life? Would that pique your interest a bit more?
Between Santa and jingle
bells, Christmas parties, and presents to buy and hope for, I think most of us
struggle to keep our attention focused on the baby in the manger. I've worked
hard to make this a Christmas where I had time to consider the sacred. That's
why I keep wondering how Jesus would celebrate His birth.
As I recently wove my way through the mass of mall shoppers, past the long line waiting for Santa’s knee, avoiding the tempting smell of far too expensive coffee, I heard familiar carols blasting overhead: “Angels we have heard on high . . .” And I wondered, What are the angels doing this Christmas?
Perhaps you struggle with insecurity or feel you have nothing to offer. Take heart, you serve One who seeks those who know they are needy, and who delights in using small and ordinary tasks as preparation for the extraordinary.
Do you remember when postal mail was the only option? As a child, I had a pen-pal in Seoul, Korea. Because of the geographic distance, our correspondence required several days of waiting patiently between letters. While I love the ease and convenience of email, I think living without “waiting” may make it difficult for us to grasp the concept of the eternal.
What would it be like to raise a child to know God's truth
and then watch her choose rebellion? How would I feel if my own children chose
to stay in a pattern of sin for more than a decade? Would I persevere to keep
Are you facing a circumstance that just doesn't naturally call for gratitude? You're trying to be brave. You want to do the right thing. But trying to be thankful for what God is doing in your life right now . . .
We often sense the Lord’s presence in places of serenity and security.
But what happens when the scenery changes—when the serene and secure
become tumultuous waves of uncertainty, doubt, or fear? When the bills
can’t be paid, or the consequences of sin run deep, or your hopes and
dreams for the future have been shattered?
"Seven years later, I still fall back into my worry-and-need-to-control bouts every now and then. In these times, it is so reassuring to go back to the journals I wrote during those last months in Orlando. I review my prayers, and my faith is strengthened as I look back and see how God used every delay, problem, and hurdle for good in my life. I have been able to connect the dots between seemingly isolated events, and have been able to see God’s hand through it all; like the weaving of a tapestry."
It’s fine to take all kinds of issues into consideration as you decide on a church home for you and your family. But there are more important issues to keep in mind as you determine where you should worship. Here are a few of the issues I’d put on my list . . .
Meet Stacey Smith and several other prison inmates. You’ll be amazed at
how God can change everything about drug addicts, murderers, those who
want to take their own life, criminals of any kind . . . you, and me!
It’s nice to be remembered. A card on a special day, a look from a knowing friend, a new acquaintance that thinks enough about you to call you by name. What does this personal attention—this remembrance—from the God of the universe mean?
Do you know what God’s Word says about money? About work and rest and food? How about what it says about womanhood? In this video, Kay Arthur encourages you to know what the Word of God says about these areas—and so many more!
When we take our eyes off all we are not seeing God do, and begin thanking Him and proclaiming His goodness for all we haveseen Him do–our perspective transforms from worry . . . to praise and gratitude!
Jesus doesn’t look to rub shoulders with the high and mighty, doesn’t seek to gain popularity among the rich and famous, and doesn’t care about his approval rating among the American Idol crowd. He watches for the needy and bends low to pick up the humble child who reaches for Him.
When the vicious threats reach the King Hezekiah's ear, he knows just what to
do. He goes to prayer.
In childlike trust this mighty king takes the enemy’s pompous letter and literally spreads it out before God.
. . . The four creatures who surround God’s throne and the twenty-four elders seated on thrones--well, they look at each other incredulously for a few seconds
and then whisper, “Is that ALL she’s going to ask?!”
One of the most unusual gifts I ever received was an overflowing bowl of cooked-to-perfection chicken feet from my Zambian friends. Gifts certainly come in all shapes and sizes! Philippians 1:29 describes another unusual gift.
I can remember sitting in tiny, windowless practice rooms for hours on
end as a college student, playing the same piece of music over and over
again. I knew I would never reach my goal—to make beautiful
music—without that rigorous discipline.
If you at all enjoy praying or walking, can I encourage you to listen to
this really practical conversation? Or, if you're feeling rather stymied in your prayer life . . . Either way, I think you'll catch a bit of Christ’s heart for the world as you listen to Erin
But then it happened. Like falling dominoes, segment after segment of ten-foot tulling walls suddenly came crashing down. Gasps of horror preceded a deafening silence as we realized that hours of hard work now lay undone at our feet.
Our daughter’s wedding was in five days. In that short period of time, a
simple gymnasium needed to be transformed into an elegant reception
hall. A seemingly impossible task; yet this mother-of-the bride was
fully confident the “impossible” would become reality. My confidence
rested firmly in the transformational abilities of our dear friends. I
had no doubt . . . they would turn the common into a thing of incredible
"Recently I had my fourth kidney stone. Have you ever had one? The pain is unrelenting, consuming, and unresponsive to any 'over-the-counter' pain meds. It's a paralyzing, helpless, hopeless kind of feeling. My initial response to the pain was to focus inwardly and whimper to Jesus for relief."
If you are breathing, at some point there will be a moment in your life
when you have absolutely NO idea what the Lord is doing, why He doesn’t
seem to be following your life plan, and whether or not He is worthy of
Erin Roberts was inspired to start memorizing Scripture when she heard Nancy Leigh DeMoss interviewing Nancy Epperson on the subject. Be encouraged to dig in to the Word of God, too, as Erin shares about the new purpose she’s found.
Throughout history women have sought liberation through political means, financial resources, even by way of self-actualization and mystical spiritual enlightenment. But nothing else can bring true liberation—one can only find true freedom in Christ.
The True Woman Conferences are designed to serve a greater purpose than just a great weekend with friends (which we hope attendees will experience), but its purpose is to inspire, equip, and prepare women to live out God's calling on their lives in the midst of a culture that presents a very unbiblical picture of womanhood.
Rodents in various sizes and stages of life, holes in the walls, the ceiling, and floors—all convinced me this was more than I could bear. But in the days to come I began to say, "Yes, Lord. I surrender to Your will."
Janet Parshall expresses concern for women who are being taken as “prisoners of war,” talks about the importance of truth, and explains where exactly to find it in a culture that doesn’t believe it exists.
The drama continues. Only this time, Eve isn’t the main character—you are. Sin is still seductive. The stakes are still high. The consequences are still devastating. The choice is yours. Will you listen to God’s voice?
Taking out the trash has never been so complicated ever since the suburban municipality I live in instituted a new garbage collection system last year. I am so grateful that the Lord has such an uncomplicated, effective system for us to get rid of the garbage in our lives!
I was so encouraged by those of you who responded last week to let me know that you are joining with us in prayer. Are you eady to go shoulder-to-shoulder in prayer-battle with us with this week's requests?
When my friend suggested eating at a certain café specializing in gourmet breads, I hesitated only a moment before I agreed. I hate to remind people that I have Celiac disease and am unable to eat wheat products. But I was not prepared for my reaction. I was not prepared for this old familiar longing.
Last week, one month after the devastating earthquake, Haitian President Rene Preval took the unprecedented step of canceling this year’s Carnival celebration, calling instead for a national season of fasting and prayer.
As we quickly approach the first True Woman ‘10 Conference, we are well aware that this is an endeavor of gigantic spiritual proportion, and as such we are calling on all prayer warriors to partner with us as we intercede for the details of the True Woman ‘10 Conferences.
When I consider these men and women who smiled at a death that held no power over them, who longed for the Messiah from afar, who welcomed the opportunity to die as martyrs and lived as though this world had no grip on them—it humbles me.
Yesterday I was reminded that love is so much more than a sentiment. The sort of love and compassion that God requires of us was first personally shown to us on the Cross, and it’s this very love that propels us as we love others practically—even at great personal inconvenience.
According to Fern Nichols, prayer is the most important thing you can do. She shares about the impact her mom’s prayers had on her as a little girl, and then also talks about when God keeps us in the “waiting room.”
On January 1, I dusted off and opened up my One-Year Bible. On January 5, my eyes grew wide as I read that Adam lived 930 years. (I had forgotten that people used to live so long!) Can you imagine the opportunities for improvement if you were able to make 8 or 900 New Year’s resolutions? I thought to myself.
For years, I was the "queen of bad" at hiding God's Word in my heart. I had great intentions and periodically even managed to memorize a verse or two. The problem was those verses never seemed to stick in my mind for very long. In the area of Scripture memorization, I felt like a total failure.
The Christmas rush is over, the holiday meal is behind, and you “go-getters” have probably already relegated the lights and decorations to storage. Things should be slowing down a bit, so now is the perfect time to evaluate and plan.
It's easy to be afraid today, hearing news reports of wars and bombings, listening to dire financial predictions, and seeing corruption all around us. But God does not want His children to struggle with fear. His message throughout Scripture is “fear not.”
For months the Lord had been speaking to me about an area of surrender. It began initially as a simple question from my husband, “Would you be willing …?” I laughed at the ridiculousness of the thought. Surely he wasn’t serious.
So many times I’ve thought “I don’t want to ever forget this moment.” The look in my son’s eyes as his bride walked down the aisle; my husband’s “welcome home” embrace as I returned from a third-world country; the joy of freedom after years of spiritual bondage; the night I first realized I was loved by the King of kings.
Revive Our Hearts is delighted to partner with four incredible ministries to bring you three True Woman '10 National Women's Conferences. I want to tell you about each of these ministries over the next several weeks, beginning with Moms in Touch International.
"As Christians, we have an opportunity to help families around the world by both standing against incredible injustice against women and by preaching the gospel of reconciliation. Let's not lose any ground to lesser solutions."
Although we usually focus on True Woman events here on the blog, I wanted to go in a different direction today and share with you the story of one woman who is finding healing in her heart and marriage through the True Woman message.
It reminds me of sitting at the supper table as a little girl, shoveling the last bite of food into my mouth, and saying to Mom in one fast, slurred syllable, “ThankyouforthegoodmealmayIbeexcused?” I always said it. Every night . . .
I still have much to learn in the “school of prayer.” What I've found most helpful is studying the models and prayers of Scripture. When my prayers are shaped by Scripture, I am confident that they are in line with God's purposes and will.
"Often I attend prayer meetings where various requests for healing, finances, safety in travel, or job promotions are divvied out. Naturally, we desire prayer for such things. But a closer look at God's Word would reveal deeper and more divinely inspired ways to pray for friends and family."
"Not long after the honeymoon was over, I learned that my new husband preferred to spend Monday nights in front of the TV with chips, salsa, and the NFL rather than being my hands to write out my Bible study for me. Horrors, I thought, he's not a man of the Word!"
"He answers in ways that literally take my breath away . . . His gracious giving of power to do what feels impossible to do, the perfect timing in which He answers, and the way He answers–revealing complete knowledge and understanding beyond human wisdom or even comprehension."
Every once in awhile, I meet someone whose life nearly takes my breath away with its beauty. My friend, Debra Fehsenfeld, is a passionate follower of Jesus, a wife and mother of four, a lover of all people, and a praying woman. (She’s cool, too!) I asked if she’d answer my questions about prayer . . .
Last summer, my son, Matt, who had just moved back home after being away for eight months, came into the kitchen, gave me a huge hug, and exclaimed, “Mom, thank you SO much for folding my laundry!” My first thought was to check his forehead to see if he was running a temperature . . .
My “act of surrender” was more like a little boy whose mother keeps insisting he sit down in his highchair. When he finally unlocks his knees and plops into the seat, his glare tells the real story, “I may be sitting down on the outside–but I'm still standing up on the inside!”
Who or what is competing with God for first place in your life? Dr. David Powlison’s questions will help you find the answer—if you’re brave and committed enough to probe the depths of your heart for the answers.
"Do I have desires? Yes. Do I have God-given abilities? Yes. Has God provided opportunity to use them right now? No. So, I wait on the Lord, rejoice, pray, and give thanks . . . and actually mean it now."
"I'd been involved in some capacity of 'formal' ministry since 1980. And then, it all stopped. At first I was excited to see what was 'next.' . . . Then, nothing, except the same everydayness of life: walk the dog, feed the cat, count the new blooms on the geranium plant . . . you get the picture. I felt very useless, and worst of all, very alone."
Use these tools only after you have searched the Scripture carefully for yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the Truth in His Word, and work hard! Then—and only then—crack open these books, and learn from what God has spoken to others. If you are unfamiliar with how to use these tools, ask a pastor or another experienced student of the Word for help.
Have you noticed how some people cringe when they hear the word “doctrine?” Recently, while sitting in a waiting room, an older gentlemen struck up a conversation with me about the book I was reading. After informing me that he was the pastor of a small country church, he boasted “I don't preach doctrine—I just preach Jesus!”
Stanton felt so strongly that the original text of the Bible was bad for women that she put together a “revising committee” to . . . make recommendations to women about which parts of the Bible they ought to condemn and ignore.
Have you ever seen a sponge fall into a sink full of water? Immediately it absorbs as much water as it can hold. Think of your mind as a dry sponge, and devise a plan for absorbing as much of the Word as it will hold!
. . . Kay Arthur likens it to reading a book about frogs instead of traipsing through the marsh looking for a real frog. It would be easier to read the book about frogs, but you’d only end up with secondhand knowledge. You’d never have a personal encounter with a frog.
You may already have a regular Bible reading plan, but just in case you don’t, here are several. I can’t overemphasize the importance of a regular reading plan that includes all of God’s Word. At the same time, don’t put yourself in a box . . .
This morning I heard a 13-year-old boy who had just returned from a missions trip to El Salvador say, “I’m convinced that the more you have . . . the more you want . . . and the more discontent you become.” Smart kid, eh?
Dr. Helen Roseveare told of the release and peace that came when she sensed God asking her, “Helen, are you willing to give me thanks for that which I may never give you the privilege of understanding?”
I just finished packing the remaining Thanksgiving leftovers in my fridge, washing the dishes, taking out the garbage--I’m wiped! I’m sure you are, too. Life has a way of doing that to us unless we’re incredibly intentional. You'll have to be intentional about today’s Thanksgiving exercise . . .
Today's thanksgiving exercise showed me that it’s a whole lot easier for me to take inventory of my closet and to keep track of the state of my bank account than to know the privileges and position that belong to me in Christ. Isn’t that crazy?! . . .
"Help your children see the beauty of God's creation and thank Him for it" . . . "Whenever you see or hear about someone in need, take time to pray about it with your children" . . . (If you don’t have kids, this list is still worth reading and implementing in your own life!)
Here’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss. Fern Nichols will be leading times of prayer at the True Woman ’08 Conference. But you don’t have to wait until then—or even be there—to benefit from her insights on prayer.