Tag Archives: grace

Interview & Book Give-Away with Sue Badeau and Who Won Andy Lee’s Book?

Sue Badeau CCCA 14Let’s welcome Sue Badeau back with us.

Happy Tuesday, friends! I’m honored to have author and speaker Sue Badeau back with us again, and this time we’re talking about a different kind of book. Remember to leave a comment for Sue and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Good morning Sue, we’re here to talk about your newest book, Building Bridges of Hope: A Coloring Book for Adults Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma. I’m wondering what was it that got you interested in jumping on the adult coloring book trend?

Vonda, I am chuckling as you ask that question because the truth is, I was teaching about the benefits of coloring long before it because trendy. In my workshops about helping both adults and children who have experienced trauma associated with abuse, neglect, natural disasters, catastrophic illness, car accidents, school shootings or even having a parent in the military, I provide both informative research-based information but also practical, inexpensive tips and tools that offer support for healing and hope after such traumatic experiences.

Wow – when you list all of those different types of trauma, it seems like it could include a lot of people. Who specifically did you create your book for?

This book is particularly written for the adult who is involved with a child on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. A parent, whether by birth, foster care, adoption or step-parenting, grandparent, aunt or uncle, for example. But it is not limited to family – some of the people who are finding the book especially helpful include teachers and Sunday School teachers, counselors and Pastors, even little league coaches and scout leaders. It’s easy to feel either helpless or angry when a child melts down in the middle of an activity. Sometimes this leads to adult actions that unwittingly further increase the child’s trauma such as sending the child into isolation – “Go to your room,” for example. Yet all the adults I know who love and work with kids are really seeking better ways to interact with these kids which demonstrate compassion, bring about healing and in turn, improve the challenging behavior. This book provides very concrete, easy-to-understand tools for doing just that.

I see that the book includes both the written pages with the tips and tools you just described but also many pages to color. I love the artistic designs to color – so whimsical! I know your daughter Chelsea is the artist behind these images. Tell us what it is like as a writer to work on a collaborative project like this, especially with your own daughter?Color Cover

I am bursting with pride because my daughter is the lead artist. She has created most of the delightful, calming designs for coloring – designs which underscore and reinforce the written messages in the book. In addition, three of my other (now-adult) children and three grandchildren have contributed their creativity to the book. I wrote outlines and draft sections of the content and Chelsea sketched out her ideas for the coloring pages. Sometimes her artwork inspired me to re-write a paragraph or two to make it more clear, other times, I had to ask her to adjust the artwork to better fit the message. It was very much a give-and-take process. When you enlist one of your kids as a partner you have to learn how to take off the “mom” hat from time to time and participate in the creative process as equals, even taking criticism from your child. I am thankful for the gifts she has and for her willingness to use them in this joint effort.

Our family members so enjoyed collaborating on this project that we are already cooking up ideas for more coloring books. Turns out this is just the first in a series. Our second volume, a companion volume designed for children (with far less text) is being released this week! It is entitled, Bubbles and Butterflies: A Calming Coloring Book for Children, and more specialized editions are in the pipeline, so stay tuned! And in the meantime, I hope that your readers will enjoy coloring these whimsical and purposeful images, while also thinking about ways to use art and creative self-expression to bring your own family closer together.

Thanks for coming back to be with us, Sue. I love that you’ve not only created coloring books to satisfy those who love to color, but you’ve particularly focused on those who have experienced trauma. What a gift for them! I pray God’s blessing as you continue to bless others!

00 Front Cover Bubbles ButterfliesAnd friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Sue and you’ll be in next week’s drawing for a free coloring book!

Bio: Sue Badeau is a nationally known speaker, writer and consultant with a heart for children and a desire to help adults and children build bridges of hope following the pain of trauma or loss. She has worked for many years in child services and serves on several national boards. Sue writes and speaks extensively to public agencies, courts, parent groups and churches. Sue and her husband, Hector, are lifetime parents of twenty-two children, two by birth and twenty adopted (three, with terminal illnesses, are now deceased). They have also served as foster parents for more than 50 children. They have authored a book about their family’s parenting journey, Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids. All of Sue’s books and coloring books can be found on Amazon or on Sue’s website – www.suebadeau.com – Sue may be reached by email at sue@suebadeau.com.

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And who won Andy Lee’s book?A Mary Like Me image

The winner is…

Nan Jones!

 

Congrats, Nan! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Andy will get the book right out to you! And for those who still need to get your copy of Andy’s book, A Mary Like Me, here’s the direct Amazon link!

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I hope each of you had a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. Blessings as you continue to bless others in this season of Love and Grace.

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Andy Lee

Andy Lee 2016Dear friends, thank you for your grace as my blog posts aren’t on a consistent schedule right now. And thank you, too, for your kind notes, emails, and prayers as my mother continues to heal. Today she will see her new room at the assisted living and tomorrow she officially moves in. She’s so excited!

I’m excited, too, and it’s not only because of Mother’s progress. I’m also excited to share Andy Lee’s new book with you! Andy and I met years ago, I believe it was at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. It’s been a joy to watch her put in the time and attention it takes to be a serious writer, and it’s been a joy to watch her career grow! Today we’re going to focus on her new book, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called. Don’t you love that title?

Be sure to leave a message for Andy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Welcome, Andy. I know you wrote this book in part to inspire and empower women who have been called to ministry. What are some of the inner obstacles women may have to overcome when choosing to answer God’s call for their lives? What obstacles have you had to overcome?

Oh my, so many obstacles! The enemy of our lives is threatened by us, and loves to discourage us in our calling. A huge obstacle is comparison. That’s why I wrote this book. If I compare my speaking, teaching, writing, mothering, cooking (which I’m not a fan), decorating, gardening (which I don’t do), cleaning (which I don’t want to do), etc. to my friends’ and virtual friends’ cooking, writing, speaking, mothering, etc. I’m sunk. Comparison throws a blanket of discouragement over my soul, and I want to quit. I fight comparison by admitting my imperfectness and thanking God for the opportunities He puts in front of me everyday, and I ask for grace to do my best for Him, not for Pinterest or Facebook or the writer of the year award.

For women called to preach and teach and perhaps pastor, there will be many obstacles. All I can say is, “Trust God.” Trust that He will open and close the doors. Go where He leads. Know that He is creative with His calling. It may not, and probably won’t, look like you envisioned when you first knew He was calling you into full time ministry.

Finally, don’t despise small beginnings, the hidden places. God’s economy is not ours, nor is His timing. Live and serve right where you are with the people He has put in your life. They may be smearing jelly all over your television with chubby fingers. Pray for grace. Kiss those fingers. Thank God for today, and use the hidden places, the small beginnings to grow deeper into Him. Practice His Presence. And practice your calling right where you are now.

Powerful truths, Andy! We tend to read Bible characters as flat, unrelatable characters, distant from us because of time and cultural differences. How do you hope your book helps modern women to better connect with the Marys of the Bible?

Oh . . . this is such my heart. Yes, they were from a different culture and spoke a different language, and they lived so long ago, but I am convinced that all of the biblical characters, men and women, dealt with the very same heart issues we do today. We see it easily with Peter and Paul, but for some reason, the “good girl” biblical characters have a holy glow when we read their stories. This detaches them from us which distances God from us in our hearts because we don’t think we could ever serve Jesus as they did. It’s that comparison thing again. But when we find someone who can relate to our struggles, we are no longer threatened by them. Camaraderie encourages us and draws us closer. I also think that once we connect with the Marys’ human hearts, the thousands of years, language, and cultural barriers disappear, and the Bible becomes more real and applicable for today.

I love the way you incorporate the Bible’s original languages, Greek and Hebrew and even Aramaic, into your study of these women. Your book gives great pointers on simple, non-intimidating ways anyone can add this kind of study to our own Bible reading, even without a Bible degree. What does it add to our Bible study when we explore the original languages?A Mary Like Me image

Oh my goodness, it adds LIFE to our Bible study when we study this way. It is incredible. My husband says that my goal is to turn everyone into a Bible nerd. It’s true, but only because digging under our translation has brought so much excitement and joy and life into my walk with God. Nuances have been lost in translation that can be discovered by word-studies, and exploring the ancient language also brings a fresh understanding into familiar scripture. If the Bible seems dull or hard to understand, you’ve got to try studying this way. You’ll never read the Bible the same, and you’ll find the truth of Hebrews 4:12, “The Bible is alive and active . . . .”

You use the Marys’ experiences to address deep topics like grief and mental illness, with stories from your own life and ministry. How can an encounter with the Marys in the Bible help Christian women who are grieving a loss, or wrestling with mental illness?

It goes back to camaraderie. You aren’t alone. We find comfort when someone shares what we’re going through. It also takes out some of the power of the grief or depression when we realize someone else knows our pain. But what I really hope the reader sees in these stories is how Jesus interacted with these grieving, mentally ill women. He was loving, caring, and desired to heal them. He cried with them, and He understood their human heart. What kind of God does that?

You write about dreams and callings and how important they both are as well as how to distinguish between the two. What advice do you give the writer whose dream for his or her book to be published hasn’t happened yet?

Keep being faithful to what He has called you to today. Again, don’t despise the hidden places, the small beginnings. Minister, tell your story, right where you are—on your blog, in the live Facebook video you feel the nudge to do, or over coffee with a neighbor. Seek God’s face daily—that means worship Him intentionally whether you feel like it or not. If there is an ache with the dream to be published, it is a calling from the Lord. Trust His timing. Seek His will for your writing. Go to conferences, blog, and attend critique groups. Be open to all projects He has for you. You may have to set the first book aside to pitch the second and see it in print first. That’s what happened to me. My second book was published before the first, but I view this as a double portion blessing from the Lord. He loves faith. Remember, His economy is not ours, nor His timing. It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. Don’t give up.

Thank you for being with us today, Andy. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for us next!

And friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Andy. You could be next week’s winner!

Bio: Andy Lee loves to teach about Jesus, and she loves to help people dig deep into the Biblical languages. She is a Bible teacher, retreat speaker, blogger, mom to three grown children and a kitty named Hank, and wife to Mike. She’s the author of two books: The Book of Ruth Key Word Bible Study: A 31-Day Journey to Hope and Promise (AMG 2015) and A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called (Leafwood 2016). Andy broadcasts the Bite of Bread on Facebook every morning Monday through Friday at 8:20 ET, and she encourages faith and study on her blog Daily Grace found on her site www.WordsByAndyLee.com. Join Andy on her blog and daily broadcasts to learn how to dig deep to live fully.

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/andy.lee.1069

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Parting Word From The WORD . . . How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

For most of us, we’re thankful to have the recent season of braggadocio, self-focus, and pride behind us. And for those of us who follow Christ, that season has left us even more aware of the condition of American culture and the depth to which we’ve fallen. It’s been a painful realization.

But the song, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” sung by Nichole Nordeman, provided a tender balm to my heart yesterday. As I sat alone listening to the clearly-rendered words, I was reminded that regardless of the culture, my Heavenly Father loves me, His Son took my sin, and I can boast in Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

YouTube Preview Image

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:31 (NIV)

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The Words . . . We Want Peace

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

Peace. Oh, how we want it. We want it in our homes, our families, in our relationships, in our churches, our communities. We want peace in our country.

Broken lives, lost jobs, illness, and death surround us.

Will we ever truly have peace? The Bible is clear that worldly peace will not be possible until Jesus, our Prince of Peace, returns.

Does that mean until His return, we must simply endure the strife and unrest of this world?

No. We simply have to look to the Source of peace. Peace will never be found in our government or our money or our family relationships. True peace can only be found in the hearts and minds of those who know the One who establishes peace.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Regardless of what’s going on in our world, regardless what is going on in American politics, we can have peace. All we have to do is trust in Him Who supplies peace that truly does pass all earthly understanding.

After all, we really do know how the story ends.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . I Was Wrong

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I was wrong.

For the past few months I’ve considered the condition of our world and have been praying for Jesus to return and end the struggle.

I reflected on these words of Isaiah–words that could have been written about contemporary America–and cried out to the Father for the evil to end.

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. Isaiah 5:20 (NLT)

However, the more I cried out to the Father for the hardship to end, the more I realized how self-centered my prayer had been. I know beyond a doubt that if God had answered my prayer as requested, my personal struggle would have been over. I would have been in the presence of my Father, face-to-face with the One who died for me and paid the ransom for my sin.

But what about the others?

What about those who haven’t heard? What about my family and friends who haven’t yet accepted the gift of salvation that is offered to them?

What about yours?

That’s when God showed me that my prayer was wrong. My prayer was all about me and how I wanted to escape the world’s troubles.

I was praying for escape, but what He wants is revival.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

His desire is that we experience revival in our hearts, our families, our churches, our country, and our world. He will return on His timetable, not mine.

And we can be sure the timing of His return will be perfect, not one minute early or one minute late.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)

We should be praying for repentance and revival, not for escape from the world.

Who are you praying for?

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Lori Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015Friends, I’m so thrilled to have my friend, award-winning author Lori Roeleveld, back at The Christian Writer’s Den. This time she’s sharing her new book, Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life. Lori and I met at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference many years ago and it has been a joy to watch her career skyrocket. Now sit back and enjoy another entertaining interview with Lori Roeleveld . . . if you dare!

And don’t forget to leave a comment for Lori and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Be sure to come back next week to see if you’re the winner. Now let’s get started!

Lori, your book opens with the line, “We live in a land populated by giants.” Tell us what you mean.

God’s Word tells us there are persistent forces of evil at work in the world. This translates into giant problems of every type that we battle individually, as a church, and as a society. Giants are challenges that leave us feeling small and inadequate. We all face them but biblically, it’s always been the people who believed God over the giants who triumph.

How does the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale relate to 2 Peter 1:1-10?

People who don’t share our faith often think Christians have traded in everything of worth for a handful of useless beans, much as Jack’s mother felt about his trade. When we view our faith through their eyes, it can affect our attitude toward our own faith. In the fairytale, Jack clung to the beanstalk and discovered his giant-killing potential. As Christians cling to the vine that is Jesus, we, too, discover that we are giant-killers. 2 Peter 1:1-10 lists eight qualities that the world sees as boring (and probably useless) but Peter tells us having these qualities in increasing measure will “keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.” I don’t know about you but that makes me want to plant those beans in my life and prepare for spiritual growth!

Is that why you call those qualities the “eight boring beans of our faith?”

That’s right. Of course, they’re not boring but in the eyes of those who don’t share our faith, they can appear to be. It’s unpopular these days to talk about the value of faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, but Peter promises these hold important keys to effective living. It’s been exciting for me to unpack these qualities and explore how cultivating them, within a relationship with Jesus, increases our ability to defeat countless giants.

You talk a lot about how God loves our smallness and works through it. What do you mean?

One key to facing giants is understanding that God revels in using small people, places, tribes, and churches because through them, He reveals even more of His glory. Isn’t that the point? Not to draw attention to great men, women, tribes, and nations but to draw attention to the Creator God and His plan of redemption.

Where do you get your passion for small churches or people who feel small?Jesus and the Beanstalk

I grew up in a small town in the smallest state, Hope Valley, Rhode Island. There was nothing I wanted more than to be on the adventure with Jesus and I figured it had to be happening somewhere much bigger. What He’s spent a lifetime teaching me is that small places, churches, or ministries can have great impact when people in them obey Jesus.

How have you seen this play out in your life?

Since 2008, I’ve written a blog that for years had a faithful but small following. Still, posts I’ve written have had an impact on writers with larger audiences such as Ann Voskamp and Jim Rubart. Twice I’ve had posts go viral. One has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. In 2015, one week after the murder of nine Christians in Charleston, South Carolina, I was able to mobilize over one thousand believers on three continents to pray for their families, all from my small corner of the world. By my daily numbers, I’m a small-time blogger but God can use me to have a bigger impact than I can even imagine.

In Jesus and the Beanstalk, you tackle the subject of spiritual growth. What do you think are the challenges involved in discussing growing up as a Christian?

When discussing spiritual growth, we have to make frequent callbacks to the truth that we’re all saved by grace and not by works. That being said, God expects us to mature in our faith just as parents expect their children to grow up. We sometime hesitate to discuss spiritual growth because it can lead to comparisons or to a sense that some Christians are “ahead” of others. I address these challenges in Jesus and the Beanstalk and suggest an approach that helps churches and individuals navigate those challenges.

Jesus and the Beanstalk has a unique structure. Can you talk about that?

I wrote the book for individual readers but wanted it to be easy to study in small groups, too. The chapters are short and all have a closing section that includes questions I call “Small Steps toward Slaying Giants.” The first eight chapters explore spiritual growth using Jack and the Beanstalk and 2 Peter 1:1-10. The last eight chapters explore each of the eight qualities that Peter promises will make us effective and fruitful. Those are designed to meditate on one quality a week using five daily readings, one day with suggestions for ways to practice that quality, and one day with no assignment to allow for a day of rest.

Your chapter titles are intriguing: Jurassic Jesus, Why God Loves Empty Prayers, and Thou Shalt Pray like Sheldon Cooper.

I’ve been a Christian since I was a child and am a serious student of Scripture. I also came of age in the seventies and grew up watching sitcoms and late night TV so my quirky perspective comes through in the titles and in the humor of this book. I’ve wrapped my love of the Lord, my passion for His church, and my desire to inspire spiritual growth in an unconventional package. I like putting a fresh perspective on ancient truth.

That leads us to your tagline. You’re known as the “Disturber of Hobbits.” What is a hobbit and why do you want to disturb them?

Hobbits are the primary characters in Tolkiens’ Lord of the Ring series. They are creatures who love home, routine, comforts, and meals on time. Adventures are suspect to hobbits because they “make one late for dinner.” I can relate to that. I like to be comfortable and safe. Jesus adventures upset my applecart in that respect but I’ve come to love being on the adventure with Him despite my hobbit tendencies. My passion is to invite and incite other comfortable Christians into the Jesus adventure.

Al and Lori with AwardThank you, Lori. I always look forward to reading your books! Friends, that does it for another great interview. Be sure to leave a message and come back next week to see if you’re the winner of Lori’s book!

Bio: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored an unsettling blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Since then, two more books have been released: The Red Pen Redemption and her latest, Jesus and the Beanstalk. Her blog, LoriRoeleveld.com, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by RedeemingGod.com and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori learned the most important things from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. You’ll find her at her website www.LoriRoeleveld.com. If not, know she’s off somewhere slaying dragons. Not available for children’s parties.

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . The Same Jesus

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

Let’s face it, things change, and statistics show that things are changing faster than ever before. Technology has brought an entirely new timetable for the word, new. In many cases, it’s the favorite word of the younger generations.

Nobody wants the same anymore. I admit, I like getting new things, too. But I sometimes miss the dependability and consistency of the same.

A few weeks ago, my pastor at Renovation Church, Jeremy Havlin, was continuing his series, “You Are the Light.” As a church on mission “to build disciples to go make disciples,” we must not only have a real relationship with Jesus, but we must have a heart for the lost. Here are some quotable quotes that I just can’t get out of my mind:

  • Jesus didn’t come to make us comfortable; He came to make us whole.
  • The foundation of our belief isn’t a teaching; it’s an encounter with Jesus.
  • We want the God who loves and forgives, but not the God who expects something from us.
  • Follow Jesus, not tradition.
  • Faith must be placed in who Jesus is, not who we expect Him to be.
  • We want our circumstances changed, but He came to change our hearts.
  • How we receive people reveals how we receive the Lord.

And the most powerful one of all:

  • The same Jesus who changed me wants to change others.

The same Jesus. Not the new and improved Jesus or the disposable, throw away one. Not the one who sways with the culture. But our Savior, Jesus, who was and is and is to come.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

” . . . Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

 

Go, and make disciples.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Well Done, Woody

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Like many of you, I grew up in church. As a child, Saturday nights were set aside to polish my shoes, wash my hair, and make sure I knew what to wear on Sunday. As a teenager, I carried my Bible into Sunday School and filled out my registration form. As a young adult, I learned all the churchy words.

Yes, on Sundays, I looked like a Christian, talked like a Christian, and dressed like a Christian. Yes, I looked good, smelled good, and was in church every time the doors were open.

But the truth is, if I had died as a young adult, I would have gone to hell. I wasn’t a Christian, I was simply a good Pharisee.

I was the person Jesus was talking about when He said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 (NIV)

The will of the Father is not that we wear polished shoes and Sunday clothes and carry a Bible into church when we haven’t opened it all week. His will is not that we walk an aisle, sign a card, and learn a bunch of churchy words.

Without a changed heart, mind, and spirit; without a desire to have the mind of Christ and be like Him; without trusting in His blood and not our good deeds, we’re nothing but Pharisees . . . pious religious leaders who looked good, smelled good, and were in church every time the door was open.

They’re the people Jesus was talking about when He said:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27 (NIV)

Our friend, Woody Brown, died last week after a long, courageous battle. He was a kind, gentle man, a tender husband, loving father, and doting grandpa.

He coached all kinds of ball teams, helped anyone who needed help, and taught middle school boys in Sunday School. No question about it, he was a good man. He looked good, smelled good, and knew all the churchy words. But that’s not all. Woody Brown

He knew Jesus. And Jesus IS all.

Woody’s life was dedicated to sharing the hope, grace, mercy, and love of our Lord. He wanted more than anything to have the mind of Christ, to be the hands and feet of Christ, to spend eternity with Christ and to take others with him.

Woody is the one Jesus was talking about last Thursday when He said:

“Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

Well done, Woody. Great is your reward.

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Set-Backs or Set-Ups?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Our senior pastor at Renovation Church, Jeremy Havlin, said something in a sermon several months ago that has stayed with me. (Actually a lot of things he says stays with me, but this one is always close to my heart.) He said, “Sometimes set-backs are set-ups for greatness.” In other words, sometimes set-backs are set-ups for the next step to something greater than we could possibly imagine.

He went on the say that in living the Christian life, we don’t need to know what’s ahead, we only need to know the next step He wants us to take. Amen.

Now that Gary and I have had the experience of many birthdays, we’re on the other side of life. And even though some people look at that fact with sadness or with a determination to remain young, we both can see the joys associated with living for and trusting in Him over the long haul, in good times and in bad.

Gary’s diagnosis of cancer about 3 months after our wedding; a difficult period in our marriage in which we came close to losing our way; Gary being downsized from his long-term career job just a few years before his planned retirement; a land purchase that fell through after we had already sold our house; rejections of my early writings . . . these were all instances of going through difficulty in order to receive an incredible blessing. In each case, God poured out more blessing than we could have ever imagined!

Please know I’m not supporting a name-it-and-claim-it religion–quite the contrary! After all, John the Baptist was beheaded, many of the disciples were killed, and the martyrs . . . well, they were martyred. Yes, bad things really do happen to good people.

Instead, I’m supporting a believe-in-Him-and-His-Word-regardless-of-what-happens confidence that Our God is in control. Sometimes we don’t live to see the good that comes through our bad circumstances, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t good that eventually came from it. We may not even know the good until we reach eternity.

All that to say that we can become so used to His Word that we become underwhelmed by its truth.

For instance, consider Romans 8:28.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

We’ve probably heard or read that verse hundreds of times. Perhaps we’ve read it so much that we’ve lost enthusiasm for its powerful message: God uses all things. Everything. Good and bad. All things work together, and He uses it for our good.

The unpaid bill. The shocking illness. The divorce. The death. All can and will work together for good in some way.

So what set-backs are you facing today? Could they simply be set-ups for something good in the future? Could they be part of the next step He wants you to take?

One thing we can know for sure. Regardless of what happens, it’ll be good in some way.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Vonda

 

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Do We Have Instructed Tongues?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Since you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you feel called by God to be a writer or speaker. So when I found this powerful verse in Isaiah, I knew I had to share it with you!

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Isaiah 50:4

At first glance, this looked like a great verse for us to claim as speakers and writers. But after doing some research, I found that Isaiah 50:4-9 (some commentators say 50:4-11), is the third of four Servant Songs, foreshadowing our Savior, Jesus Christ. And it fits Him so perfectly!

But I must admit I was disappointed that it looked like we couldn’t claim the verse for ourselves.

In the verses prior to verse 4, God is chastising Israel for not recognizing His omnipotence, His power, and His love for Israel. He reminds them that He was not too weak to protect them from their enemies, but that they were the ones who turned away from Him. After generations of rebellion and defiance, God had had enough and had allowed them to suffer the consequences of their choices.

But He also provided the answer to those choices—Jesus, the One who knows the word that sustains the weary. Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name!

And the good news is, as followers of Christ and students of His Word, we are directed to be like Him, which means to shine His light, and to share His saving grace with this lost and dying world. In other words, as we study, as we pray and seek His face, as we confess our sin and meditate on His promises, several things happen:

  • We DO receive an instructed tongue
  • We DO know the Word that sustains the weary
  • We ARE challenged to listen to and follow His words
  • We ARE taught by His Holy Spirit

Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name! So follow, study, shine, pray, confess, and meditate. Then go, write, speak . . . and share the Word that sustains the weary.

It is a verse for us today.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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