The Passion of Jesus Christ

The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper is an amazing book. The subtitle is: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die.

Reason #6 is To Show His Own Love for Us.

Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25

[He] loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

John Piper writes: The death of Christ is not only the demonstration of God’s love (John 3:16), it is also the supreme expression of Christ’s own love for all who receive it as their treasure. The early witnesses who suffered most for being Christians were captured by this fact: Christ “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). They took the self-giving act of Christ’s sacrifice very personally. They said, “He loved me. He gave himself for me.”

John continues: Surely this is the way we should understand the sufferings and death of Christ. They have to do with me. They are about Christ’s love for me personally.

This book has changed the way I view Christ’s death and his resurrection.

What does Christ’s death mean to you?

How do you see his resurrection?

Satisfying the Soul

 

 

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Billy Graham published a daily devotional titled Hope for Each Day, Words of Wisdom and Faith. My husband and I have been reading it together this year, usually at breakfast. November 5 was a particularly powerful entry that I wanted to share with you. 

November 5, Satisfying the Soul

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Psalm 119:35

The Bible teaches that a person is more than just a body–each of us is actually a living soul! Our souls are created in the image of God. God Himself has implanted His own nature within us!

Just as our bodies have certain characteristics and appetites, so do our souls. The characteristics of the soul include intelligence, emotions, and will. The human soul or spirit longs for peace, contentment, and happiness. Most of all, the soul has an appetite for God–a yearning to be reconciled to its Creator and to have fellowship with Him forever.

In our world, we give most of our attention to satisfying the appetites of the body and practically none to the soul. Consequently we are one-sided. We become fat physically and materially, while spiritually we are lean, weak, and anemic.

The soul actually demands as much attention as the body. It demands fellowship and communion with God. It demands worship, quietness, and meditation. Nothing but God ever completely satisfies, because the soul was made for God. Don’t starve your soul.

HOPE FOR TODAY  When was the last time you intentionally denied yourself food, drink, or rest? Be sure to tend to your soul’s needs just as attentively.

(Billy Graham)

To satisfy my soul I read scripture daily and spend time telling God about my day, my thoughts and my relationships. I try to remember to ask Him often what He would have me do. Sometimes a few days will slip by in which I haven’t connected with Him. I get too busy to stop and read, or other people take my whole day and I fall into bed exhausted without even speaking to God. Then my soul gets hungry.

What do you do that feeds your soul?

nanowrimo

nanowrimo

https://nanowrimo.org/

Nanowrimo

National Novel Writing Month

 

OK! I’m going to do it!

The first time I heard about nanowrimo, I thought someone would have to be crazy to do that. Now, here I am, almost a year later, trying to convince my friends in my writing group to do it with me.

They think I am crazy.

Nanowrimo is the National Novel Writing Month in which we attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November. We enter our daily total number of words and watch the number climb.

Last year I wrote my first story. It is a children’s story about a boy growing up on a homestead in the Bozeman, Montana area. He meets an unusual neighbor who begins to mentor him in his relationship with God. The boy starts to really ask some important questions. Then difficult things in life begin happening – don’t the always? This boy begins to pray and watches as God does some amazing things in his life.

My first draft is finished, but I have learned so much about writing since I started it a year and a half ago that I really need to go back and smooth it out. Then I hope to find a publisher.

I have started a second story: this one a mystery set in 1916 Glacier Park. I will do my best to give all the clues to the reader yet see if I can hide the answer from them until the very end. I will definitely have to use my friends as guinea pigs before I look for a publisher.

So now, nanowrimo.org.

I have pledged to start a brand-new novel on November 1st and have all 50,000 words written before the last minute of November melts into December 1st.

Yes, I am a bit nervous. Writing just for word count is not how I usually write. I think that ideas are more important than lots and lots of words. I am much more succinct than most people I know. This will be a new experience and a challenging time for growth.

This new story is based on Jesus’ parable about the unmerciful servant found in Matthew 18. A young woman living in Germany makes her way to America, intending to find work and send money home to her parents. She arrives penniless and is sold into indentured servitude.

Check out nanowrimo.com and see if you are up for the challenge.

Anyone else out there writing stories? Leave a comment, I would love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

God Heard Me

Psalm 116: 1-2

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

Both verses make it clear. Because God heard me, therefore I love him. Cause and effect.

Love and trust grow between two people when they genuinely hear one another.

God Hears Us

When I feel that God is far away from me, that’s when I know I need to pour out my heart to Him. One time when I was going through a particularly difficult situation, I dedicated every evening to Him. I gave away my T.V. and spent every evening reading scripture and praying. Sometimes hours would go by when it felt like only a few minutes. Did God immediately solve all my problems? No. But I did feel His presence in powerful ways! I cried out to Him in pain for 18 months. Then He blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

When you are in desperate straits, pour it all on God. He wants to hear it.

Speak to Him in the silence of the night.

Cry out to Him throughout the day.

Pray while you take a fast walk through a park or go for a hike. The added exercise will combine with your prayers and amazing things will happen.

We Must Hear Others

Love and trust grow between spouses when they genuinely hear one another. Listening to our spouses shows that we love them and that they are important to us. When our spouses feel that love, their love for us will also grow.

Friends also need our undivided attention. Our lives have become overfull of activities and social media which means little time is left for deep friendships. God created us for relationships with other people, face to face relationships. Texting is convenient but it will never replace loving someone enough to sit down and look them in the eye and say, “I am here for you.”

Listening is not an easy thing to do. Lynda D. Elliott, in her book The Counsel of a Friend, said, “Listening may appear easy or even passive, but really ‘hearing’ another person may be the hardest work you will do.”

How to Listen:

  1. Pray first – Ask God to help you truly hear that other person.
  2. Focus on them – Set aside your own thoughts and judgements.
  3. Watch – Look for body language that reflects their thoughts and feelings.
  4. Notice – Take note of their feelings. Are they feeling angry, sad, guilty, frustrated, hopeless or something else?

 

Listen beyond their words. What is in their heart? Don’t try to “fix” them or their problem. If they want advice, they will ask for it. Till then just listen. Just love.

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Desiring God

Several months ago, I stumbled across an amazing website: desiringgod.org.

Daily articles are written by solid, mature and wise Christians. The articles range from practical everyday topics to deep devotionals that touch our hearts. Some examples of recent articles are:

Oct. 4 – Do You Pray Against Temptation?

Oct. 3 – The Most Repeated Verse in the Bible

Oct. 2 – What Will Make Our Children Happy?

Oct. 1 – What Does Prophecy Look Like Today?

Dec. 21, 2016 – What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas (Okay, so it’s not recent but you must agree, it is essential.)

Besides articles desiringgod.org has a myriad of resources for everyone, from the business person to the stay-at-home parent, from students to ministry leaders. In their own words, here is their mission:

Most people in the world have no experience of deep and abiding joy.

Even though it is something we all desperately long for, the assurance that true happiness can be known — fully and forever — is a hope that billions of people live every day without. This is a tragedy.

Desiring God is on a mission to change that.

We aim to help people everywhere embrace a profound truth that changes everything about life and eternity:

You were created for something greater than yourself. You were formed for something awesome and magnificent.

You were made to know glory — God’s glory. And the deepest longings of the human heart can be fully satisfied by pursuing that glory. In fact, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Thank you to all the staff who put so much time and work into encouraging us in our daily walk!

What is your favorite Christian website?

 

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Bullets of Satan

Why is it that accusatory thoughts repeatedly float through my mind?

Laying in bed in the early morning, just waking up, the room gradually growing light. The thoughts begin their work.

Remember when the kids were small, how you over punished them that one day? That was terrible. You were a terrible mother.

            Remember when you were in college, there was that one study group with that girl you didn’t like? You sure told her off, that was so unchristian like. She will always remember you as the mean one.

Remember how you were so demanding of your ex-husband? No wonder he couldn’t put up with you. You ruined that marriage.

If I let myself begin my day after this barrage, I find that I take out my hurt feelings on my family and friends. Yes, I have made mistakes in my life, I do have regrets. But no, I was not a terrible mother, I did not ruin my marriage. Those are lies that Satan builds out of our humanness. Those bullets of Satan change me into a demanding and unforgiving person.

When I refuse to accept those lies, turn to Scripture and ask for God’s help—everything changes. Christ fills me with a love for others, and myself. I turn my thoughts to the new creation that God has made in me.

Remember last week when you gave groceries to that single mother and her kids? You were a godly friend.

Remember the forgiveness you have received through Christ and in turn forgave that harsh word that flew out of your friend’s mouth.

Remember when you taught Sunday School and the kids were amazed at the story of Gideon? You passed on the Word and the Love.

Laying in bed at night, just before I fall asleep, the bullets of Satan also begin their work. No! I refuse to listen. And you can too.

I pull out my Bible and read. Satan’s bullets disappear.

Take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16

Grateful Praise

 

Psalm 116: 1-2

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;

He heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me,

I will call on him as long as I live.

 

It has been a number of years since I have contributed to my blog. In 2013 I went through a very difficult time. 2014 was even harder. Through it all, I clung closely to God. He heard my cry and in 2015 He brought me a wonderful, godly man. We were married in December of 2015 and have grown closer in joy for the past 2 ½ years.

God heard my voice, He provided all I needed – and even more. My love for God has grown immensely as I have witnessed His work in my and my husband’s lives.

 

Psalm 100

(A psalm. For giving grateful praise.)

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

 

Friends and Magic

I was thinking today about some people in my life that are a gift to me.

An intelligent, spunky child of 6 years old with an insight to the world far beyond her years: as I share reading skills with her, she shares her joy and magic with me. A day does not go by in which she does not make me laugh.

Last time her mother paid me for tutoring her in reading, she stopped and stared at me. “Why do you get money?” she demanded to know. My reply was, “Because I work very hard.” She did not miss a single beat but quickly responded, “I’m the one who does all the work!”

Her joy makes my heart sing!

A co-worker. We unexpectedly became fast friends. They have a gentle, calm way of  being upfront and honest about things. It feels wonderful and freeing to think about and discuss ideas together without worrying about being accepted or someone’s agenda. They are also a wonderful listener. To just be and share. And to be heard – those are true gifts!

It seems that most people work at keeping a hierarchy among everyone they know. They try so hard to put themselves at the top. They tell downgrading stories behind the backs of others. “Do you know what she did?…” “He never gets it right!…”

What are they looking for? Acceptance? Recognition? I’m not sure but it seems to me that they never truly get what they want. They never seem content. The bickering goes on and on.

Me too?

When my friend listens to me, they listen with their eyes and ears and understanding. I feel greatly accepted and recognized. What would the world be like if we were all like my friend?

I am grateful to these two individuals for what they have added to my life. I would like to find ways to thank them.

Do you have people like this in your life?

Are you a gift to someone? Strive to be a gift today.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. NouwenThe Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey