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The b-less-ing of less

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Lent is the season of denying self for spiritual gain. Lent has always held a special place in my heart. My parents taught me from an early age to partake in the blessing of denial. The blessing of less. In less there is more. Less of me, more of Him. Less of sin, more of Him. Less of flesh, more of Him.

Somehow denying ourselves of the everyday makes it a little less familiar and a lot more special. We cut back on the everyday to make room for the sacred. The blessing of less.

The Greek word for deny, used in verse 24 is aparneomai which is derived from the root word arneomai which means to disregard his own interests or to prove false to himself, to act entirely unlike himself.

Isn’t this what happens to us when we become a new creature in Christ? We stop living for self and start living for Him? There are times when the greatest compliment I could receive is She is acting completely unlike herself.

Let that be our prayer. Father, help us to act entirely unlike ourselves and be entirely like Jesus.

What do you need to give up this lent? Beyond denying yourself candy, or pop, what is God really going after in your life/my life to make us entirely unlike our old selves and more like our Savior?

Please leave me a comment in the space below about your Lenten journey. I’d love to chat with you!

 

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The Good News about the Bad News

Yup. We’ve got ourselves some bad news. Covid is surging again in Michigan. Racial tensions reach the breaking point in several large cities around the country. NYC has de-funded the police. The NYT reports Americans are being tracked by their smartphones. LA and San Diego school districts are online only for the fall semester. Everywhere we look it seems there is bad news. Is there any good news about the bad news?



Where is God in all of this bad news?

Right in the middle. Remember there is nothing new under the sun. Nations rise and fall and God has His plan and His people in place. A Daniel in Babylon. A Joseph in Egypt. An Esther in the palace. And God has placed you right where you need to be.

Acts 17:26 states “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” Where and when you are is no accident.

Do some good!

God has placed you exactly in your city, on your street in your very house for such a time as 2020. Why? Because God has meaningful important work for you to do in this crazy chaos we call life. People need encouragement. Neighbors need to hear the truth. Unemployed friends might need a meal…and we all need some toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

God is in control.

God has promised to use all things for our good and His glory. Therefore everything is under His direct control. Remember, Proverbs 21 states “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” God is in control and that is great news!

The real Good News!

Because of all the negativity, people are more open to the real Good News. Pray and ask God to give you an opportunity to share the gospel. Since you are praying for an opportunity to share, be prepared to speak. Tell your friend/neighbor that:

  • God is not surprised by 2020,
  • God loves us,
  • God also loves the world,
  • He has a plan for our lives,
  • Jesus died on the cross to take away all of our sin (every bit), and
  • Jesus is waiting to be our Savior.

People are scared, tired and discouraged. Give them a real reason to hope.

So what else can you do?

  1. Be proactive. God tells us to pray about everything. Join a prayer group such as 5 Days to Fast and Pray for Our Nation and be a part of the healing!
  2. Be informed. Learn about the current events and cultural trends so you can speak with intelligence. Read all points of view on a given issue.
  3. Be kind. Listen to others and be respectful. Everyone has a right to their own point of view. We can disagree and still be civil.
  4. Be reasonable. Know when to walk away. Not every post or comment needs a response.

Leave a comment below and share some good news. We all could use it!

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Resources:

How to find God Video

The Good News Movement

The Good News TV Show




life words

you spoke your death words. how easily they dripped from your tongue. words without grace. words without love. words without hope.

words without life.

did you pray before you spoke to me? did you see the soul before you, so loved by God, before you let loose your darts?



the enemy always comes to kill steal and destroy. what else would I expect but death words?

but God

the Great I AM, the Omnipotent Ruler and Creator of the Universe, the Word, the Truth and the Life. He spoke.

life words

You spoke your life words. How quickly You proclaimed them from Your tongue. My face cradled between Your nail-scarred hands. Costly Words of grace, dripping with love and drenched with hope. Life words.

I love you,

I see you,

I hear you.

I cover you in the shadow of My wings. I came so you can have life and life abundant.

what else could I expect from the Creator of my soul but life words?

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Because of the cross we have choice— life words or death words, blessing words or cursing words. No matter what we’ve done, how far we’ve wandered, or how long we’ve been gone, we have choice. How will we prioritize the words of others? How will we prioritize the words of God? Which will we use to write our story? Which will we give access to our heart? What will you choose? What will I choose? Choose life words and live.

say these life words out loud:

I am called. I am loved. I am clean and forgiven. I am redeemed and washed in the blood of Jesus. I am holy and set apart in love for good works. I am a son/daughter of the King! I have hope and a future!

prayer

Dearest Father,

Help my brothers and sisters in Christ know the truth of who they are in You.  Help them to believe Your life words. Help them to know its never to late to turn around and follow You. Now is the day of salvation. Now is the day of redemption and repentance. Amen.

way of life words

To learn how to accept Christ as your Savior, please click on the following link: The Way to God

Please click on the following links to learn more about your identity in Christ:

Beth Moore God’s truth

Gregory Dickow: Identity in Christ

Please let us know how we can pray for you by leaving a comment in the reply section down below.




Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the start of the season of Lent on the Christian calendar. Lent is the time when believers prepare our hearts for the coming of Easter; it’s the time for reflecting on the sacrifice that Jesus made for each one of us when He went to the cross. We can do this in several ways:



  • Prayer
  • Repentance
  • Practice of spiritual disciplines
  • Attending services
  • Denying ourselves something (such as giving up a favorite food)

Let’s Humble Ourselves

On this first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, we humble ourselves before God. Some faiths remind us of this by placing ashes on their congregants’ foreheads with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In that spirit, we’d like to revisit a post we wrote previously to help you start Lent in a humble, reflective manner. Here is the link to the Ash Wednesday pdf:

Ash Wednesday

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and we pray you and your loved ones have a blessed start to this season of Lent!




Study, Lent: empty to full

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16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:16-17

I love studying and learning.

I could be a professional student. My heart beats a little faster when I hear terms such as Rhodes Scholar, Oxford, Cambridge, Colson Fellows Program … the stuff dreams are made of. God is all about studying and learning. He required the Kings of Israel to write a copy of His word and keep it with them and study it every day of their life. What’s good for the Kings of Israel is good for us.

Studying is a discipline and requires determination and perseverance, but the pay-outs are huge. Wisdom, knowledge, blessings, being smarter than our enemies are just a few of the benefits of studying God’s holy word. In this digital age we have instant access to the word of God — it’s only a click away.

Make some extra time this week and get your study on, you will be blessed! To get you started, please dig in to the Sway below.

Don’t forget to leave a comment in the Comment Section about what you have learned!




Lent: empty to full, prayer

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At its simplest, prayer is communicating with God.

Prayer is the language of our hopes, dreams, and ambitions. The Bible teaches that we should pray without ceasing, in good times and bad, when we are tempted, and when we are under attack. While God can do whatever He wants without the help of man, in His wisdom He has decreed that some things will not be accomplished apart from the prayers of man.

The effective fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much!

We all know we should pray. We all know prayer is important … so why don’t we? Why do we struggle so with prayer instead of in prayer? Because prayer is hard work. Prayer is where our battles are won or lost. Some parts of the Christian life are enjoyable: praise and worship, fellowship, hospitality. Prayer is literally going to war with the enemy. No one likes to go to war. It’s hard. It’s bloody. It’s critical. It’s necessary. It’s our privilege and the payouts are huge.

Our nation is at stake. Our families are at stake. Our children are at stake. Suit up and get your armor on and drop to your knees because the battle must be won.

Please scroll through the Sway below to access the many embedded prayer resources. Remember to leave a comment below and on our Facebook page.

Have a blessed Lent.

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Lent: a season of empty to full, examen

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Welcome to week 2 of Lent: a season of empty to full.

This week our focus is examen and self-denial—two of our favorite subjects! I know there’s nothing we like better than taking a deep look at ourselves (warts and all) and saying no to our flesh. While these spiritual disciplines may be uncomfortable, they will bring a harvest of good if we allow God to do His necessary work.

Below are the five traditional steps for the discipline of Examen:

  • Gratitude: Recall the blessings of the day and thank God.
  • Review: Recall the events of the day and notice where you felt God’s presence and where you resisted opportunities to grow in love.
  • Sorrow: Recall anything for which you are sorry.
  • Forgiveness: Ask for God’s forgiveness and/or healing if needed.
  • Grace: Ask God for the grace you need for the next day or for your life in general.

In the Sway, we will provide the information you need to go through the process of examen.

Let’s also stretch our definition of denial beyond the traditional Lenten ideas of sugar and sweets. Consider denying yourself the right to get angry or to get even. What about denying yourself the right to be bitter or unforgiving?

Get ready for the Spirit to dig in to your life while you dig into the many resources included in this week’s Sway. Remember to pray for each other and post your comments on our Facebook page and in the comment section below.

From empty to full.

Have a blessed Lent.

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all rights reserved.

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