FOR FAITH: Oz and I (Softly Surrender)

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For some reason, Oswald Chambers didn’t whack me upside the head this morning in his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. Rather, he spoke so softly, he almost whispered.

He reminded us that yes, God wants us to surrender our will to His. But it’s reciprocal. God isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done. He’s only asking us to do it on a much smaller scale.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Jesus surrendered His life for our sake.

And why wouldn’t I want to surrender my will to God? His will is better than anything I could ask or imagine. His will is perfect. His will is good because He is good. Always.

It’s nice to know Oz doesn’t always have to whack me upside the head to get my attention.

Today is Good Friday—the day in history when Jesus was beaten, scourged and hung on a cross to die. He became human–mortal–in the first place in order to die for us. He surrendered His physical body to death for our sake.

How little He asks us to surrender. Only our stubbornness, our pride, our self-ness. To gain the kingdom of God in return.

Thank you, Jesus.

 

NOTE: This post is based on the March 13 devotional of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest.

FOR FAITH: That Reminds Me of Jesus

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When I sat down to write this post, the first word that floated into my brain was: bubbles.

They do remind me of Jesus.

Bubbles are a mixture of water and soap.

Jesus is the living water and only He can wash my heart clean.

Bubbles in the sunlight are circular, three-dimensional rainbows. God set the rainbow in the sky as a reminder to us—and to Himself—of His promise not to flood the earth again.

Bubbles ascend to heaven; just like Jesus did. And like we will too if we have first accepted His beautiful, rainbow gift of grace.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What quality of bubbles reminds you of Jesus?

(Image from Wikipedia)

FOCUS WORD: Firm

This year, my one word is Firm. I try to apply that word to relationships, to faith and to every other area of my life. I like the idea of a one-word focus, but admit it’s been hard to firm things in some ways. Physically, for example.

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Yes, I’ve increased lifting free weights from a wimpy 3 pounds to a hefty 8 pounds. And no, I don’t actually believe 8 pounds is hefty…

Yes, I’ve worked at trying to firm up relationships, although there are still several people I deeply desire to spend more time with that I just haven’t been able to reconnect with this year.

And, yes, writing Bible studies has definitely helped firm up my faith by helping me understand more about God’s character as revealed in Scripture.

So, it’s been good this year to focus on “firm.”

But when I started out in January, I thought I’d have made much more progress. I thought I’d be less jiggly physically, more giggly socially and spouting Scripture at every turn.

I forgot I’m a turtle. I’ll never spend three hours a day at the gym. I won’t meet friends for coffee every morning. I can barely remember the names of my family, much less recall who said what in Scripture.

But the focus remains. And as long as I’m leaning toward firm, it’s forward movement,even if only half of me is moving.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a one-word focus for 2014? What is it and how are you doing?

FOR WRITERS: Q1 Goal Review

It’s time to review those goals we made back in January. Not just writing goals; all of them. But because I made myself accountable on this site for writing goals, let’s review them here. Please jump in with a review of yours.

Goals

Remember, it’s OK to change goals; even add new ones or drop off ones that no longer apply. The key is to keep in front of you the direction you intend to go.

My goals were: Keep blogging, maintain participation in Inspire Christian Writers group, launch two books in my With Faith Like Hers Bible study series. How am I doing?

Still blogging–two times a week. Thank you to all who stop by and see what’s up. You encourage me tremendously!

Still leading one online critique group with Inspire; getting ready to start up a second group; praying for leaders for more groups. God is providing!

Getting ready to launch I am Eve and I am Ruth Bible studies by the end of Q2. Two more studies, I am Mother Mary and I am Elizabeth are in early draft form, awaiting revision.

My “secret goal” which may become a true goal at our next goal review, is to launch both Mary and Elizabeth also by the end of Q4.

See how goals can change?

What about you? What have you accomplished in reaching your goals? Have they changed? If you’re not a writer, what about general life goals? How are you doing?

FOR FAITH/FOR WRITERS: Explorers

I’m an explorer. I dig. I uncover. I dis-cover.

When I began writing, kids were my audience, finding publishing success writing non-fiction for teachers to use in the classroom. I discovered I had the heart of a teacher.

When I turned to writing for adult women, I had that same heart. The girls had grown up, but I was still writing curriculum—to use in the classroom of life. Based on Scripture.

Five years ago I got serious. Last year, I launched I am Esther, the first book in my Bible study series, With Faith Like HersThe next two books, I am Eve and I am Ruth will be out later this year.

Eve front cover onlyRuth book cover only

It was okay to call myself “teacher” when I was only helping kids learn society’s imposed curriculum. But to call myself a “teacher” when it was God’s curriculum? Wow. That’s a hefty responsibility.

It means I have a deeper and higher accountability for doing so.

I’ve given myself a new title. Bible explorer. It’s me, digging into Scripture and finding what is there, what it means and what it could mean for application in our lives today. It’s not so much teaching as in—here’s me knowing it all and telling you what to do. Rather, it’s—here’s me, learning things along the way. Digging. Uncovering. Dis-covering.

When I began writing, kids were my audience. They still are. My audience is God’s kids. No matter the age.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? We’re all teachers in some area of our lives. What’s yours?

FOR FAITH: More Praying Boys’ Names

I like to encourage people to pray that people they know will live the meaning of their names. Monday, I added two girls’ names, Wendy and Sandra. Here are two boys’ names.

Name

If you have someone you would like to pray for in this way, please leave me a comment. I will research the meaning of their name and create a prayer for you in a future month.

If this idea appeals to you, I can also prepare a printed “Prayer Plaque” for you to give to your loved one. You can go to my publishing website for more details. (www.HonorBoundBooks.com)

May you be blessed.

RONALD: counsel rule; mighty; counselor

Heavenly Father, we pray Ronald will live the meaning of his name. We pray he will pursue knowledge so that in all things he will have wisdom to make God-honoring choices. We pray also that he will recognize that you are the mighty ruler of all things and that because of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit in our lives as our Counselor and Friend. Amen.

BENJAMIN: son of my right hand

Heavenly Father, we pray Benjamin will live the meaning of his name. We pray he will live a life, knowing that he is your son and that, as your child, he is loved, as you love your son, Jesus. Amen.

FOR FAITH: Praying Names

I like to encourage people to pray that people they know will live the meaning of their names.

Name

If you have someone you would like to pray for in this way, please leave me a comment. I will research the meaning of their name and create a prayer for you in a future month. Here are two girls’ names; Friday I will post two boys’ names.

Stay encouraged.

WENDY: family; wanderer

Heavenly Father, we pray that Wendy will live the meaning of her name. We pray that she will become part of your family, knowing you as her Heavenly Father and Jesus as her brother. We pray also that wherever she may wander in her life, she will never wander away from you. Amen.

SANDRA: defender of the people

Heavenly Father, we pray that Sandra will live the meaning of her name. We pray that she will defend those people in the world who have no voice or who are not being treated with justice. We pray also that she will recognize you as the most powerful defender and mediator on our behalf. Amen.

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If this idea appeals to you, I can also prepare a printed “Prayer Plaque” for you to give to your loved one. Please go to my publishing website for more details. (www.HonorBoundBooks.com)

OZ AND I: Set Afire

Today, Oz did not whack me upside the head. He set it on fire.

Or rather, he urged me to allow God to.

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Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest is a compilation of essays Mr. Chambers wrote to encourage students of the Bible Training College preparing to become ministers and missionaries. His essays are often deeply theological, rarely for the faint of heart and usually prompt groans from me as I realize his truth and how far my faith and trust still has to grow.

Today he said:

Allow God to have complete liberty in your life when you speak. Before God’s message can liberate other people, His liberation must first be real in you. Gather your material carefully, and then allow God to “set your words on fire” for His glory.

For people who rely on words as their main tool in their career, this is a tough thing to do. Think before writing? Bite my tongue and wait until God tells me I’m ready to speak?

Sort of like: Be still and know that God is…

  • At work
  • Has a message that’s more important than mine
  • Wants to set my words on fire
  • Wants to set me on fire.

Fire is a good thing. It refines us. It gets rid of the dead stuff. It warms us when we’re cold; comforts us when we’re alone; brightens the dark night.

In Scripture God was found in a burning bush and a pillar of fire. God’s throne is fiery flames; God Himself is a consuming fire. And He wants to set my words on fire; wants to set me on fire; wants to set His world on fire. For His good purpose.

Smokin’!

(Based on the devotional for March 10 from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest.)

FOR FAITH: Green is the Color of Jesus

Grab your shillelagh and dance a jig. Today we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
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Amid the hoopla, few of us stop to remember that St. Patrick’s Day is first and foremost a Christian Holy Day, set aside to honor a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

Although some details of Patrick’s life have been lost over time, we know he was born in the fifth century, the son of wealthy Roman citizens in Britain, Scotland or Wales. He was kidnapped as a youth and taken to Ireland where he lived as a slave.   He later escaped to the European continent, where he became a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. He then returned to Ireland to convert the pagans to Christianity.

Because Patrick had lived in Ireland, he knew the language, the culture and the ways of the Irish people. He therefore was able to share Christ in ways they could understand—explaining the Trinity, for example, as similar to the way the three leaves of the shamrock were separate and yet still part of the same plant.

Patrick was much loved by the Irish people. After his death, the local Catholic Church canonized him as a Saint. St. Patrick remains the Patron Saint of Ireland.

Today as we don our green (and pinch our friends who aren’t wearing any), search for leprechauns, and simmer our corned beef and cabbage, let’s not forget to praise God for the way He can use us wherever we are; how He can turn even kidnapping and slavery into something that glorifies Him.

Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s day by dancing a jig, because the day reminds us of Jesus.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please use us today for your plan. Take even the bad things in our lives and use them for your good and for your glory. Thank you for using other people to bring us to you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What’s your favorite way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Are youreally Irish?

 

(This is a revision of an original posting dated March 16, 2012 on my former blogsite: FromCarolsQuill.)

 

 

 

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FOR FAITH: Purim Treats

This evening begins the Jewish celebration of Purim which remembers God’s deliverance of the Jewish people living in the Persian empire. King Xerxes’ official, Haman, had planned the slaughter of the Jews. It was prevented by Queen Esther.

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The first book in my With Faith Like Hers Bible study series is I am Esther. In it we learn how our characteristics and circumstances are similar to those of Queen Esther—from God’s perspective. With my book newly released, I thought it was appropriate to make a batch of Hamantashen to remember Queen Esther’s decree—and more importantly—to remember that God has delivered us as well.

Here’s the recipe to try yourself. The cookies are supposed to represent evil Haman’s tri-cornered hat but I’ve never been able to make them come out like they’re supposed to look. A few years ago I found several recipes that said it was still traditional to simply fold the circles in half. That’s what I do now. The oddly-shaped one in the middle is to show that my hats never turn out looking like hats, but they taste just as good.

Sort of like how we people are never perfect but God loves us anyway.

When I make these cookies, I think about Jesus, growing up in a Jewish family. No doubt he celebrated Purim each year of his earthly life. I wonder if his mother ever made a treat like these. Maybe he even helped her bake them.

Enjoy!

Hamantashen (makes about 2 dozen)

  • 8 ounces butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour + 1/8 cup
  • Nutella, strawberry jam or apricot jam
  • Powdered sugar for garnish

Cream together the butter, cheese, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour. Then cover and refrigerate dough for about 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll dough to about 1/8-1/4 inch. Cut 3-4” circles with a cookie cutter or glass dipped in flour. Place each circle onto cookie sheet. Place about 1/2 tsp filling in center of each circle. Pull up sides and pinch 3 corners together with filling showing. Or fold 1 over the other to form triangle.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool.