Category Archives: Faith

A relationship with The Lord through Jesus Christ, expressed in the disciplines of Bible Study, Prayer and Service to others.

Looking for Christmas

Do you ever wonder what the wise men were thinking, as they sought the Christ child? Maybe it went something like this…

As I kneel before the babe, I wonder at the new life before me. What kind of world changer would be introduced in such humble beginnings? What manner of life would unfold to one, who of necessity, is hidden away from the rulers of the land? Why would any power be worried about an infant from a poor family?

We’ve traveled so far. My companions first told me about the phenomenon in the sky many months ago. We couldn’t help ourselves; we had to make hasty preparations for our departure. It was a pilgrimage, really, a time of soul-searching for all of us. We could be considered religious by most. Yet, we knew something was missing in our lives; some void that begged to be answered. Now, here we are, face to face with the tiniest of humans, innocence that draws us to our knees in worship of our most holy Creator. And we know, deep in our hearts, we know. This is the One  for whom we have studied our whole lives in earnest, to seek the fulfillment of our yearning. And it is the greatest honor of our days to bow in humble adoration of what God will do through one so human, yet so divine.

There’s a quote that says, “Wise men still seek Him.”

So often, I find my attention span spread thin during the holidays, and I realize I haven’t been wise. I get caught up in the season’s movies, shopping, wrapping, menu planning and lights.

It requires intentional effort to remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I want things to be different. I want to share the quest of the wise men, to be completely in awe of Jesus’ birth. I want to have a thirst for God that is so consuming it drives me to my knees.

May this Christmas be the time we seek the Lord’s coming; when Emmanuel, indeed comes to live with us. My wish for all of us is that the wonder of the Christ child would be born again in our hearts, every day!

Sally

Leave a comment: How do you seek the Christ child at Christmas?

Book Review & a Giveaway: Talking to Jesus

Do you ever wonder if your prayers are heard? Talking to Jesus, through the fictional depiction of real people in the Bible, assures you of the God who hears. In fact, the author’s goal is that “you’ll read your Bible with a slight shift in your mindset and find yourself talking face-to-face with Jesus anytime, anywhere about anything and everything.”

Jeannie Blackmer is the author of Talking to Jesus, as well as MomSense, Boy-sterous Living and Where Women Walked. Her work with Guideposts and MOPS International has given Jeannie a unique window into the world of people and the power of their stories.

Jeannie uses stories to escort us throughout the dusty roads of Jerusalem. Her imagery navigates conversations and introduces us to the characters like we’ve never seen them before. Jeannie’s use of fictional techniques makes the stories come alive.

At a time when people are desperate to know if God is who He says He is, Talking to Jesus brings a fresh perspective on how to reach out to Him. Indeed, it was out of desperation that Jeannie sought the Lord; she searched the New Testament for ways to pray for her own children and found comfort in the prayers of other parents recorded there. She says, “We reach a point when we realize if our children are going to follow Jesus, it won’t be because of anything we have done but simply because Jesus is who he says he is.”

Talking to Jesus comes with questions for introspection. The personal application has a sweet and endearing way of bringing you to the feet of Jesus, making prayer as easy as drawing your next breath.

Through stories, the author tackles issues of desperation, doubting, compassion, forgiveness, and desires.

Through reflection, the reader grapples with questions of significance, meaningful work, and a clash of expectations and circumstances.

This book is different than other books on prayer because of the way it presents the power of story to communicate Scripture. The author’s imagination fuels details and breathes life into the words on the page. It holds treasure to add to your daily routine!

I am giving away a copy to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about a person in Scripture who inspires you to pray, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Friday, December 1.

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog About Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
BlogAbout Blogger Network

Book Review & a Giveaway: The NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible

Do you remember when you first began reading the Word of God? Do you remember the feel of the soft pages and the excitement of your newfound faith? Imagine giving that gift to a girl in your life!
Zonderkidz has come out with a compact Bible, perfect for carrying to school or church or a hike in the outdoors. The Leathersoft cover features an embroidered heart with an embossed reminder to “Follow your heart.”
The Faithgirlz Backpack Bible includes:
• Fun pink color in Leathersoft ™ design
• Twelve full-color pages of Faithgirlz fun that helps girls learn the “Beauty of Believing!”
• Words of Christ in red
• Ribbon marker
• Complete text of the bestselling New International Version


Zonderkidz™, the children’s division of Zondervan, inspires young lives through imagination and innovation. As a leader in Christian children’s communications, it creates products that awaken the hearts and touch the souls of kids under 12.”
I promise the gift of a Bible can make a lasting impact in a preteen. Hidden within its pages are the treasures for a full life and the key to understanding God’s purpose for daily living.

Enter the drawing! I am giving away a gift pack of the NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible and Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You, courtesy of Zonderkidz Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) and answer this question, “What is your earliest memory of learning from the Bible?” You will be entered into the drawing to be held six days from today, September 27. For an extra chance to win the drawing, leave a comment on my review of the Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You!
Sally
Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The BlogAbout Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: God’s Easter Miracles

Author, Lee Ann Mancini and Illustrator, Dan Sharp have done it again, in creating adorable caricatures that are relatable and entertaining. In God’s Easter Miracles, sea creatures in vibrant colors tell a story in the saga of the Sea Kids.

Easter has come to the coralhood. The Sea Kids are looking forward to the egg hunt after church. One Sea Kid, Paul, is sad because he didn’t find an egg marked for the special prize. Jimmy has a dilemma when he is asked to share one of his eggs. All of the Sea Kids face a crisis when Brian’s brother is in a boating accident. How will they respond?

God’s Easter Miracles provides a story arc, problem solving for children, learning practical ways to care for others, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It even has a hidden symbol that adds a puzzle to solve. I am delighted to recommend this gem to parents, grands, and all who love children. It tackles tough topics like autism, trauma, and the way God answers prayers, with sensitivity and compassion. And it opens the door for conversations with the little ones in your life, as you read about Jimmy the seahorse, Lenny the manatee, and all of the Sea Kids at Beneath the Sea Play Park. This is a book that extends beyond a holiday, to year-round faith-building fun!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Snow Day

For the first time in 22 years of living in western New York, the Governor declared a State of Emergency before a storm actually hit. All of the weather maps show a major snow event colliding with an air mass coming from the opposite direction.

A trip to get groceries is due.

The gas tank needs to be filled up.

It feels good to be prepared.

Yet the storm didn’t come as predicted for our area. And people scoffed. “We’re hardy New Yorkers,” we said. “We can take a few feet of snow.”

In 2,000 years of proclaiming the message of Christ’s birth, repeatedly the warning has been sounded, “Get ready. Christ is coming again.”

But the storm hasn’t hit yet, and so people are doing business as usual. “We’re strong,” we say. “We’re gonna live forever.”

What’s in my pantry?

Is there salvation?

Compassion?

Devotion to God’s Word?

Have I filled up my gas tank with God’s presence in my life?

It feels good to be prepared, yet, what about my neighbor?

Does the gal in the checkout line know the message of Jesus?

How about the boy who put gas in my car yesterday?

We weren’t put on this earth to go our jolly own way. It reminds me of Mordecai’s words to his niece, Queen Esther, “Maybe you have been positioned in this place, for such a time as this.”

We were born into this generation for a reason. There are people next to us every day who yearn to know the purpose of life. Jesus said He came to bring fullness. If we don’t tell them about Jesus, then who will? They need to know there is a Resurrection Day coming, when we will give an account for our lives. And the One who is coming, is the One who loves us most.

If we put so much effort into preparing for a snow storm, wouldn’t we do so much more for an even greater day, The Day that will determine where we spend eternity?

Sally

Book Review: 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart

Liz Curtis Higgs brings a bouquet of verses to the table and delicately places them on a banquet of lace. Her words soothe and cajole. Her illustrations reaffirm. As she serves up 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, she also offers up sage wisdom: “When you spend time in God’s Word, life starts making sense. The broken places inside you begin to heal. Darkness and discouragement give way to hope.”

Beloved author and speaker Liz Curtis Higgs has learned the beauty of that advice. A seasoned student of the Bible, Liz has authored more than 30 books with 4.6 million copies in print.

When used as a daily devotional in collaboration with the Study Guide tucked into the back, this little treasure will unlock God’s Word in a new way and stimulate your thirst to dig further. Incorporating over 30 translations of the Bible, Liz dissects each verse in order to glean the rich fullness packed therein. She also references the Hebrew and Greek words, in order to mine out the original intent.

One example that shone for me, was the chapter based on Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Liz talks about the meticulous process a blacksmith follows to sharpen an iron blade. A metal file is drawn across the blade to create a sharp edge. The blade is rubbed against an oiled whetstone to smooth away the rough edge. Then heavy sandpaper blends the edge with the rest of the surface. What does that have to do with people? When we care about each other, we use words to open gently, polish and smooth over old wounds. We sharpen each other’s faith “with a timely word.”

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart is a delightful tool to put to work month after month. From 31 passages to 31 tips for absorbing them into your life, 31 Verses will equip you to carry God’s Word with you wherever you go!

Sally

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

 

Book Review: Teach Us to Want

Do you wonder if ambition is ungodly? Do you think you shouldn’t chase your dreams because they don’t feel “spiritual?” Jen Pollock Michel tackles questions of how to understand the desires that move us, in her book, Teach Us to Want.

Jen is gifted at unwrapping Scripture in understandable language. Her writings appear in Christianity Today, Beautiful Orthodoxy, The Gospel Coalition, Today in the Word and The American Bible Society. Jen asks, “Is it true that the hardest, least desirable choice is the most obviously holy? Is it true that personal desire must never be trusted?”

The process of finding answers to her own questions, leads us down a path of introspection and searching. She ponders the place of self-salvation and the one where we embrace God’s will.

How important is this topic? Life-changing. Because it is the difference between trusting God, or demanding control. Jen says, “Holy prayers of desire don’t simply aim to get something from God: they’re ambitious to get God in us.”

If you’re human, you can relate to this book. We’ve all experienced disappointment and dashed dreams. But Jen Pollock Michel offers something more: hope and the knowledge that the Lord has a good plan in store for us. She unpacks how the desires of our heart can impact the expression of our faith. And desire is a wanted characteristic, instead of taboo, because it unveils opportunities the Lord wants to use through our God-given gifts.

Read it and be blessed!

Sally

Almost Home

On our return from Africa, our Mission Team flew into Toronto for the last leg of driving home to Jamestown, just south of Buffalo. The 17 hours of flight had only served to make us more homesick, as we longed for sweet sleep in our own beds.

Finally, with luggage gathered, tired bodies accounted for and vans retrieved, we settled in for the three hour drive home.

As we approached the Canadian/US Border, we noticed traffic slowing. And then it came to a standstill. We could see the flags of our own country, but could not advance to it.

photo

In these tumultuous days, we’re watching the effects of sin take a toll on our planet. War, hatred, abuse, the sex trade, people hungry for power, poverty, drought and all sorts of evil in between. And it makes us long for our Heavenly Home. Jesus said we would face trouble. But He also promised His presence would comfort and guide us. This is the time to stand firm and pray. When you hear the news, pray. When you see bad things happen, pray. And when you think you can’t take any more, pray.

Answers in Genesis opened their replica of Noah’s Ark on July 7. One of the first visitors was Bill Nye, who claimed children are being brainwashed. As I scrolled the comments of his supporters, I couldn’t believe the bashing toward Ken Ham (who happens to have the same name as one of Noah’s sons) and his Ark. And I wondered if that was just an inkling of the mocking Noah endured in his day. We are not home yet.

Our Heavenly Home is just over the horizon and our King is on His Return Trip. Stand firm; we’re almost Home.

What helps you stand firm? Leave a comment in the link just under the title, and I’ll send you 6 Tips for Talking to God.

Sally

We are not home yet

Teardrop

“What is home?”

Our class had a variety of answers; places remembered from the past, or an ideal set apart for our families.  But all I could think about was a feeling.  “You know that feeling you get on Christmas Eve?  When everyone’s in bed, asleep, and everything’s done that can possibly be done?  All that’s needed at that moment is to reflect on The Day to come, and gaze at the lights on the tree.”

That’s my picture of “home.”

Anne Graham Lotz talks about our heavenly home in The Vision of His Glory.  She says the glassy streets of gold will reflect God’s glory with every step that we take.  We will not only have access to the Presence of God (as the Israelites experienced through the priest entering the Tabernacle), but we’ll live in the Presence of God.

No, we are not home yet.  But Jesus is preparing it with painstaking detail, just like a mom would get ready for her college student to come home on break.  Anne reminds us that favorite meals would be prepared, activities planned and phone calls made saying, “My daughter is coming home!”

I can’t wait for my heavenly home!

Sally

Originally published at Sally’s Words

Review & a Giveaway: The NIV Lifehacks Bible!

NIV Lifehacks

If you were offered the key to unlock mysteries, would you take it? The NIV Lifehacks Bible extends that and so much more, in the quest for understanding God’s Word.

It contains 365 articles to explain the process of becoming more like Jesus.

It covers 30 everyday disciplines.

It chronicles 8 different categories of spiritual formation (the process of conforming to the character of Christ).

 

That’s 365 articles for each day of the year.

30 disciplines for each day of the month, on average.

8 categories to examine one a day, plus one.

But do you need to read or apply every entry? The author, Joe Carter says, “No. This Bible contains over 1,000 tips and suggestions, and no one could (or necessarily should) attempt to apply them all. My goal in writing these articles is that every reader will find at least eight things to apply to their life, one in each of the eight categories of spiritual formation.” (Seeing Jesus in Scripture, Prayer, Engaging Scripture, Communion with God, Internal Disciplines, External Disciplines, Responding to God’s Calling and Assessing Spiritual Growth.)

NIV Lifehacks 197 become like Christ

Imagine what would happen to The Church, if all Christians took it upon themselves to make Bible study and discipleship a personal endeavor? This Bible is called “Lifehacks” because we live in an age when we’re looking for tips and tools to handle life more efficiently. Ever wish you could “cut to the chase” in the way you study the disciplines of the Christian life?

This format is a work of genius! The tools draw you into the Word of God with practical clues to texts and connections to concepts. Even the titles entice you to engage your brain… before you know it, you’ve been studying the Bible!

  • When We Should (Probably) Not Agree to Pray for Someone
  • What Lambs Reveal About Jesus
  • The Essential Vocation of Burden Bearing
  • The Benefits of Handwriting Scripture
  • How Honey Helps Us to Know God
  • How 15 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life
  • Kill the Dragon, Get the Bride

Are you curious yet? Get your own copy today. Or, you can enter the drawing!

I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Zondervan Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about one of your favorite Bible study tools, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held one week from today, July 7. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Sally

P.S. Each person who leaves a comment will also receive a free pdf, “20 Prompts for Spiritual Journaling,” from the NIV Lifehacks Bible!

 NIV Lifehacks 58 (3) Scripture points to Christ

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”