It’s part 2 in the series First in Faith: The Life of Abraham and this week we see a different side of our hero - one that struggles and makes mistakes. But it’s through those mistakes that we learn an important lesson about God’s promises and the life of faith: God’s promises are based more on who HE IS vs what I DO.Read More
Every now and then, I read a passage in the Bible that touches my heart in a way that leaves me speechless. Literally speechless – nothing at all to say. And that isn’t an easy task considering I’m someone who makes a living out of talking - and talking specifically about the Bible!
But recently I found myself at that exact point as I was reading and meditating on the story of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15:11-32).Read More
This is a guest post from Linamize, a first-year graduate student originally from Eritrea, who is now studying to be a physician’s assistant in California and who has guest posted before. In today's post, she shares an eye-opening "moment of truth" she experienced while reading a passage in Scripture recently. If you too are interested in guest posting, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
"And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?" (Isaiah 5:3-4)
When I opened my Bible this morning and read that, I felt as if the Lord was speaking directly to me (or about me).Read More
It hasn’t been a long time since I’ve begun to write, but it has been long enough for me to truly notice and witness God’s grace in my life.
Most people who help me with my writing pieces, know that my favorite topic to write about is the grace of God. The all-knowing, all-merciful and all-loving God. His love extends so far into every facet of my life that I find it so difficult now to understand how blind I can sometimes be, and how much better I need to be every single day.Read More
“Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.” Luke 15:15-16
This Sunday – the third Sunday of Lent – we read one of the most well-known and beloved stories of the entire Bible: the parable of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15:11-32 if you need a refresher).
Why do we love this story so much? What is it that makes this particular parable melt our hearts the way that it does?
It’s more than just the love of the father or the forgiveness he shows to his son; there’s more to it than that. There’s something in this story that stirs the heart of everyone who hears it or reads it.
What makes this story so touching? What jumps out to me is how LOW the boy had fallen and how HIGH he was lifted after that.
It’s the discrepancy or change from start to finish. At one point, he had sunk to the lowest of lows – the textbook definition of “rock bottom” – but by the end of the story, he had ascended to the highest of highs – the receipt of amazing grace and an incredible deliverance.
How deep had he sunk?Read More
A good friend and I once had a conversation about sin and temptation, and he said something to me that I will always find incredibly profound. He said, “If you deem yourself unworthy of God’s grace, then you are judging the just Judge.” That phrase hasn't left my mind ever since.
It's true. God sent His son to die on the cross so that we may all be able to live in paradise forever, so who am I to say that I am not worthy of this love? Yes, you do need to be humble and not act like you are more privileged, but at the same time, we need to understand that forgiveness and grace are GIFTS, and not RIGHTS. I feel many times people blame God because, in a terrible and twisted way, we feel entitled to His grace and love.
But we aren’t. We are gifted so greatly with His unconditional love.Read More
"What the world needs now is love, sweet love it's the only thing that there's just too little of What the world needs now is love, sweet love,No not just for some, but for everyone."
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! We decided to take a break from our current series on Confronting Conflict and instead we talked about the subject that is on everyone's mind on the 14th day of February...LOVERead More
Recently, Fr. Anthony wrote a great post on why we don’t or can’t pray very well. Every word written there is true for me. It’s uncanny! Perhaps the same is true for you. I tried recording all the excuses we come up with to not pray… there’s too many… lack of concentration, laziness, I’m tired, no time…and the list goes on and on.
“God knows what I need. He knows my heart and my good intentions.”
“I talk to God all throughout the day. He’s with me everywhere.”
“I’ve had a long day. I deserve some rest. I don’t want to push too hard or else I’ll break.”
“Of course I pray! When I feel God’s Presence and my emotions well up more than ever, that is my prayer. And those are the most heartfelt and fervent prayers of all!”Read More
This January, like thousands across the country, I made a resolution to lose weight and be healthy. So after doing some online research, I made my way to the neighborhood gym to meet with the sales team. Having read a lot about how gyms try to rip you off with random fees and entice you with perks, I went in skeptical but feeling prepared.
The staff was welcoming, they gave me the best deal they could, and I signed up. However, not fully convinced that I would be the 10% that keeps up with their resolutions every year, I decided on a month-to-month membership. This allowed me an easy “out” when things got tough, but still made me feel like I was committed to my health.
Let me just say that this is not the first gym I’ve joined, or my first attempt to get in shape. Like most women, I’ve tried about 5 gyms and 5 other “at home” work out programs in an attempt to get in shape. This time, I told myself, it would be different.Read More
Why are we talking about conflict? Because a) life is all about relationships and b) you can't have relationships with conflict. It's inevitable!
How many marriages are broken because of a conflict mishandled? How many parents wish they could "go back" and respond differently? How many friendships end suddenly because of a conflict that arose suddenly and wasn't handled properly?
The goal of this series is to learn how to face conflict head on - in a godly, Christlike manner. Check out Part 1 above and get ready to change your outlook on conflict.
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but BORN OF GOD.” (John 1:12-13)
Week 2 of IDENTITY CRISIS: The Search for Meand the first characteristic that we need to understand is what it means to be a CHILD of God - a son or daughter of the Creator/King of the universe.
The most important thing you need to know about being a child of God is this: my identity is based on who HE IS more than it is based on who I AM or what I DO.
What does that mean practically? Check out the video above and see for yourself. Trust me, of all the things you need to know about yourself and your identity, NONE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS. Enjoy!
Part 2 of the Love Is series and this week's topic: LOVE IS ACTION!
We all know that true love is more than words, but did you ever stop to think why you struggle so much to give that love to others? If we all know we need to be more loving, what stops us?
The answer? In order to love God and love others in a healthy way, I must first LOVE MYSELF in a healthy way.
What does that look like? Check out the video above and see for yourself. You'll hear me give my opinion of what that looks like and you'll also hear from a very dear friend of mine who courageously agreed to share her experience on the subject as well.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:3
Every now and then, I come across a passage in the Bible and it’s as if I’m reading it for the very first time. Those are the moments I live for… when the Word of God comes alive in a very real and personal way.
This morning was one of those moments. I read St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians and even though I’ve probably read those words hundreds of times, today was something special. It finally clicked!Read More
“Therefore you shall be PERFECT, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Perfect? YEAH RIGHT! Are you kidding me? Is that even possible? That's the question that we discussed yesterday in the Week 5 series finale of God's Ethics: Realigning Your Moral Compass.
The key is in understanding what the word "perfect" really means. If you define it as "sinless" or "without any blemish", then you're going to feel frustrated and discouraged. But is that how Jesus meant it?
I say NO! And I invite you to check out the message above to see for yourself. You'll discover that perfection isn't at all what you think it is and that actually, it's a lot more within your reach than you realize.
Years ago, I read the Old Testament book of Jonah and decided that I didn’t really like Jonah very much. Whenever I say that out loud, I imagine myself getting to Heaven and running into Jonah as he stands with his hands crossed, head shaking, waiting for an explanation. This week, I got to thinking about what I would say in response. Why am I so quick to discount him?
Every Sunday School teacher will tell you that Jonah’s main struggle - the reason the Ninevites were almost destroyed - is because he was disobedient. Obedience is not my struggle. When God asks me to do difficult things, I do them. Now, never mind that when I do them I am worried, afraid, doubtful, begrudging and searching for every way to justify cutting corners and that those things are just as sinful. But in the end, I obey. And Jonah didn't.
And that makes it easy for me to look down on Jonah; because his sin is different than mine.Read More
We recently asked our college Sunday school class where they think they would go if they died today and why. All of them, 100%, said they would go to hell because they're not worthy of heaven.
There's something very wrong here that made me want to fire myself from any kind of church teaching that I've done in the past 10 years. I shared a discussion of this incident in a post on my blog. Thousands of views later, it seems clear that there's a real issue here.
It’s been said that half-truths are more dangerous than lies...and we've been victims of a terrible half-truth, "We are not worthy of salvation." But there’s gotta be more to the story.Read More
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12
This week's message in the I AM series is based on one of the inspirational and grace filled encounters that Jesus ever had. The statement appears at the end of a dialogue between Jesus, some mean spirited Pharisees, and a woman caught in adultery.
Part 4 in the Crazymakers series. This week is all about BOUNDARIES - what is my responsibility and what isn't? Should I help every person in need? Should I help no one in need? Where do I draw the line? The answer to these questions might surprise you. One of the things that I said in the message is that our goal is NOT to aim for equality - the goal isn't to treat everyone the same way. That wasn't what Jesus did surprisingly enough.
So what should we be aiming for? You'll have to listen to find out!
It happens to all of us. None of us is exempt. No matter how much we want to turn away, we just can’t sometimes. It’s like watching a train wreck – we don’t want to see it, but we just can’t turn away. What am I talking about? I’m talking about GOSSIP.
Unfortunately, we’re suckers for gossip these days. We may not admit it outright, but it’s the truth. And when there’s a problem, gossip only does one thing to it…MAKES IT WORSE!
One of the biggest news headlines these days are the scandals of men in leadership roles having extramarital affairs. Most recently, General David Petraeus - the former Director of the CIA who resigned due to an extramarital affair. True, that news is a bummer and even stings a little bit. However, what is the best response that we can have for this (as a Christian)? The world might not forgive him, maybe not even his family, but Christ certainly will.Read More
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33
Great power. Great grace. I love those two phrases. I want that in my life and I bet you wouldn’t mind them in yours either. The question for today is this: where did that 'great power' and 'great grace' come from?You’ll be surprised by the answer. That verse is found in between some other verses that seem out of place. The verse before it says:
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” (Acts 4:32)
And the verse after it says:
“Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” (Acts 4:34-35)
Huh? Those verses are about giving. You’d expect a verse about 'great power' and 'great grace' would come from a passage about prayer or love or fasting or humility or something along those lines. But the Bible here connects it with generosity and giving instead. But not just any kind of giving – real giving, sacrificial giving, giving in a way that doesn’t make sense to give. Maybe the early church knew something that we don’t.Read More