“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8
o The Bible is the story of Jesus. It is God’s plan through time of the redemption of his people through his son’s ultimate sacrifice and victory over death.
o There are 66 different books in the Bible, written by over 40 different human authors. These authors were kings, shepherds, doctors, prophets, fisherman, tax collectors, farmers and more.
o The Bible was written over a time period of more than 1500 years.
o The Bible is divided into two main sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
o The Old Testament is the “old covenant” or promise of a coming Savior. It is full of history, laws, stories of kings and judges, poetry, songs of praise and books of wisdom. It also contains writings of the prophets of long ago who foretold the coming Messiah (also called the Christ or Savior).
o The New Testament is the “new covenant” or promise. This new covenant comes because Jesus enters the world as a fulfillment of all of the old prophecies. The new promise is that if we believe in him and accept his gift of payment for our sins on the cross, we become part of his family and can live with him in Heaven someday. He also promises to return to earth soon to judge all people and establish his new Kingdom.
o The first four books of the New Testament are the four gospels (gospel literally means “good news”). They are four stories from four perspectives of the life of Jesus on earth. They are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
o After these gospels comes the book of Acts (or Acts of the Apostles). This book tells of what happened after Jesus was resurrected from the dead and went back to Heaven. This is the story of the early church, what they did and how the good news of Jesus began to spread across the world. Also about the persecution that began to rage against Christians. You will find much about Peter and Paul in these pages.
o What follows the book of Acts are letters and narratives written by Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude. These writings expound on why Jesus is the Messiah and how we are to live and act in light of this.
o The final book is a prophetic future account of what will happen in the end times (coming very soon according to the Bible). This is the book of Revelation written by John.
Where do you start? Get to know Jesus. Pick one of the gospels to read first (John may be my favorite, but all are good). Then read Acts and on to Romans. Reading these three books will give you a solid foundation of who Jesus is and what his life, death and resurrection are all about. But after these, do not stop, just keep going!
Why do I trust the Bible? Faith. I have full faith in all the Bible says. This is not blind faith, the scriptures are full of evidence that prove the existence of Jesus and of the events described. Most people are either blind to it, don’t care or are too lazy to open the Bible and see it for themselves. Don’t be one of them; don’t settle for anything less than the truth. Don’t rely on someone else to tell you what it says (even me). Belief is between you and God, pray and ask that he opens your eyes and heart to understand the truth.
How do I know the Bible is accurate? A consistent story of one main character written by a variety of authors (who mostly did not know each other), over a time span of 1500 years. Explain that apart from a Holy Spirit’s divine direction. Also, because the Bible says so. “All scripture is breathed out by God.” 2 Tim 3:16. Once you understand the authority the Bible has as the full and inerrant word of God, there is no other source that we can compare it to. If this isn’t enough walk outside, did all of this creation happen by accident and random chance? “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20.
What does the Bible mean for you? Life or death, and the choice is yours to make… “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Jesus = Life
Above all else, my heart’s desire is that you come to love Jesus. Plain and simple. Yet this has immense eternal significance. Please allow me to walk you through why this is so vitally important and keep in mind, if I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t waste my time and effort to put this together and give you this gift of God’s Word. How hateful it would be for me to possess the cure for eternal death and not share it with you. Not only the cure for death, but also the only way to experience peace beyond understanding, true joy and full security while on this earth knowing my soul is safe in the hands of a Mighty God who has redeemed me to be his own. So here it is…
God is our Creator, he is holy, perfect and just. In his presence joy, peace, and love abound. Where he is is where Heaven is. In order to be with God we must also be perfectly holy, God will not tolerate anything less in his presence. No sin is allowed.
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” – Revelation 4:11
“Since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” – 1 Peter 1:16
Sin enters the world. The very first man and woman God created (Adam and Eve) chose to sin and rebel against God. Since that moment humankind has continued to sin against God. Have you ever sinned? Have you ever told a lie, lusted, wished evil on someone, envied someone? Then yes, you are a sinner. We all are, me too. When we sin, we are rebelling against God and his rules, we are putting ourselves above him.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” – Romans 3:23
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-13
God will not tolerate sin. God is a loving God, but also a just God. Sin must be dealt with and brought to justice. What does sin cost? Remember sin cannot be present with God. Someone with sin must be removed from God, that place is called Hell. Since we sin, we deserve Hell.
“For the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” – Hebrews 9:27
So is there any hope? Yes! That is why the story of Jesus is called the “good news”! The bad news is we are sinners and the price for sin must be paid or God would not be keeping his word. The good news is, because of God’s great love for us, he had a plan all along to redeem us. He sends Jesus, his son, to put on flesh and come to earth. Jesus lives a perfect life, free from any sin at all (read the gospels to check this out). He then offers himself up to his Father as the one who will take the punishment of our sins upon himself. Jesus will pay for our ugly sins, every single one of them.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” – John 1:14
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,” - 1 Peter 3:18
We can be forgiven and saved from death! God pours his wrath and judgement upon his own perfect son instead of upon us. Though innocent, Jesus dies a horrible death and is crucified on a cross in our place. God’s wrath is satisfied, the debt is now paid in full forevermore… but only for those who accept this sacrificial gift and believe in Jesus. Those who continue to rebel and live life their own way will be separated forever from God.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;” - Isaiah 53:5
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” – John 3:36
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18
When God calls you to be his own and you chose to believe in him, there is no going back. He replaces your heart of stone with a heart of flesh that beats for him. This becomes evident in your new love for Jesus and in how you live your life for him. There will be noticeable changes in your life. You are a new creation and not the same. You have moved from death to life.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13
If this event ever takes place in your life, I want to know it. I want to rejoice with you and praise God with you.
Jesus is alive today. Jesus did not stay dead, after three days in the grave he arose, victorious over death. He ascended into Heaven and sat down at the right hand of his Father God, his work was complete.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,’” – John 11:25
“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” – Hebrews 10:12
I will be praying that God will open your heart and call you soon. I want you to choose Jesus so badly I will give up anything in my life to see it happen. Call me with questions or to meet to talk. Read about Jesus and make your decision soon.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean.” Only a woman could read this often overlooked verse and find great joy in it. It is found in awesome chapter 14 of Proverbs and God brought it to my attention this week just when I needed it.
Who wants a clean manger? Well, honestly I do. Or I think I do. I sure spend a lot of time and energy trying to get one. I clean my house multiple times a week, often multiple times a day just trying to keep it “presentable” whatever that really means. I can easily get caught up in the futile frustrations of it all…
BUT...(you could feel that coming, right?)…is it really futile? If I didn’t have oxen, my manger would always be clean. If God hadn’t blessed (yes, I said blessed) me with a husband and children, I would be able to sit back and enjoy a clean home all day, every day. But let’s be real, I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I sometimes imagine I would. I would miss my cattle very quickly and desire a full and messy manger again with all of my heart.
This verse provided me with a quick shot of proper perspective from my Loving Father. Ladies don’t fret about a messy home. Yes, we need to care for it and keep it comfortable, but we know it will be just a matter of time (usually about 10 minutes in my house) before it is messy again.
If the manger in Bethlehem all those years ago would have been clean and empty, Jesus wouldn’t have had a safe place to lay his head while Mary recovered and could hold him in her arms (not to mention we would be without one of the most awesome Christmas songs EVER). It was all in God’s perfect plan.
God uses our messy homes for his purposes too. We may feel that it is wasted time and of no “real eternal value”, but get real! Remember, God uses EVERYTHING in our lives to shape our hearts as he desires them to be. Through caring for messy oxen, we learn patience, how to serve with a right heart, how to honor God in all we do, how to love others, perseverance, and tenacity. Also how to train our children, delegate, and manage a home. Recall that, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” Luke 16:10.
We may call it housework, but God calls it all heartwork.
If you are single and feel as if your manger is just too clean… time to mess it up. Seriously. Invite others in to minister to and serve. Find ways to bless the hearts of others in the name of Jesus as God transforms your own.
The second half of this verse goes like this, “but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Where there are oxen, the harvest is plentiful, in our hearts and in theirs. You may at times feel like your family members really are farm animals, but these “animals” are assigned to you to accomplish in your heart exactly what your All-Knowing Father knows you need most. Trust God, the fruit will come and it is promised to be ABUNDANT if you follow him.
Welcome to the glorious process of sanctification, Ladies! I enCOURAGE you to thank God for your messy mangers and the oxen he has entrusted to your care for your good and his glory today.
We had just finished breakfast and decided to take a hike in the woods on the “West Lake Trail” behind our campsite. Just me and my two youngest boys. As we entered the forest the world around us changed. It was beautiful. The morning sun was shining through the high leafy branches, sending rays of light beaming onto our path and illuminating the greenery around us. Birds were chirping out their morning songs and squirrels scurried around the hilly terrain.
As I watched my sons interact together on that broad trail in front of me, laughing and sharing imaginary stories, my decision was once again confirmed in my heart. I want more of this. I want to share God’s world with them and stand beside them each day in amazement of God’s creation and orderly plan demonstrated over and over in the details of life. I want to teach them how that light pressing through the trees above hits the plants below, initiating photosynthesis so that these plants can grow and produce oxygen. Why? Because that is how God designed it to be on creation day number three.
I want to begin with the Creator, Author, and Perfector of life and not allow him to be a post script at the end of their busy days. I want to share truth with them and allow their natural curiosity to bloom and stir in them a love of investigation. I want them to settle for nothing less than absolute truth in life. I want to teach my children to center their lives around God. So I am.
It seems like such an obvious decision. God has sovereignly assigned them to me to nurture, discipline and train. He specifically chose me for this position and yet I have sent them to the World for their formal education, assuming we could “add God in” as needed. I haven’t yet found scripture to support God being a side note to real life or an extracurricular activity that is optional. I only see him commanding to be the main focus of every aspect of our lives (see 1 Cor. 10:31 and Col. 3:17).
Despite what I have tried to tell myself over the years, I have come to understand that education is never neutral. Jesus himself said in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” There is no hint of neutrality in those words. Public schools have kicked God out and taken their stand with the World. Therefore it follows that the educational system in our country today (not necessarily individuals) is against God and scatters.
What do we truly want for our children? My husband and I made ourselves sit down and seriously answer this question. With an eternal perspective firmly in place, we discussed and wrote down what we desired to see in the lives of our boys. There were no sappy answers of just “wanting them to be happy.” God was the focus of every goal we had and this had to change how we moved forward in raising them.
Psalm 127:3 and 4 tell us, “Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” These arrow-children of ours have great purpose. There is a spiritual battle waging whether we see it or not; whether we acknowledge it or not. I want my arrows to be as sharp and as dangerous as they possibly can be. I want them to pierce the Enemy in such a mighty way that he flees in fear, not of them but of what their Maker can do through them. Having been honed for usefulness by years of sharpening and training. The warriors that hold them are their father and I, given a gift laden with responsibility.
So I am leaving a position I have loved for ten years to yield to the calling of becoming a metal worker. I have heard myself telling others that this seems crazy, but as I write this today the opposite seems to be so true. It would be crazy to ignore the call and leave these arrows I claim precious to me, to be dulled by worldly ways and teachings. Trying to do quick, hit and miss sharpening in their ever decreasing spare time. If Christ is what life is all about, then Christ is what I will teach. All else pales in comparison to him and yet is only illuminated by his work.
There was a bench overlooking the river at the midway point in our trail that day. I asked my sons to sit next to me and we prayed together for God to guide us in this new venture knowing full well, as excited as we are, it will not be an easy path to take. We then walked on, and as I listened to these two brothers sing made up songs trying to make each other laugh, I again stood in amazement of a Creator who would package up such potentially dangerous weapons in such a joyful (although often ornery) way. Not long from now the bowstring will be pulled tight and these “arrows in the hands of a warrior” will be launched forward into a raging battle. I want them ready in every way to serve their King valiantly.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5. This was the verse a group of ladies and I were focusing on during our weekly Bible study in the park just a few weeks ago. An awesome verse everyone should commit to memory.
One of my final questions to these godly women that day was, “If you honestly exercised full trust in the Lord, what might your life look like? What radical things might God call you to?” There was silence, then some hesitant answers of sharing Christ with others, correcting blasphemies, and getting serious about teaching their children about God. I repeated myself, sure they didn’t understand what I was getting at, “Think big! If you had enough faith, what might you do that would require full dependence on God?” More silence and a few responses similar to the first ones.
We ended in prayer and went our separate ways. I found myself frustrated, why didn’t they get it? Why couldn’t they trust God in BIG ways, just grab onto a dream and imagine how God could work everything out? I wanted answers like, “I would quit my job and enter full time ministry,” or “I would open my home up to all those in need and begin a ministry of hospitality,” or “I would pack my family up and head to another country as missionaries!” Yes, me and my big dreams, but those weren’t the answers I heard that day.
It wasn’t long before God began convicting me of a wrong attitude. I could feel the Spirit nudging at me. I then came across a quote in a book I was reading from Oswald Chambers:
“The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. ‘Jesus took a towel… and began to wash the disciples’ feet.’”
That was enough to bring tears to my eyes, God had my attention. I had assumed an attitude of thinking my “big works” would please God more than any small scale act I could do.
Yes, Jesus did many awesome signs and wonders while on earth and we love to read about them and point them out to others. We quickly forget all the seemingly little ways Jesus was fully obedient to his Father God. Along with washing the disciples’ feet (even Judas’) he: had compassion on the needy, spoke encouragement, told stories to demonstrate God’s goodness, taught and prayed for his friends, played with children, suffered, went to church (temple), endured insults, forgave his enemies, and ate with friends. All Jesus did was for the glory of God; he is our perfect example in the “large and small” of our lives.
I read on… “There are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, but just the daily round, the common task. Routine is God’s way of saving us between our times of inspiration. Do not expect God always to give you His thrilling minutes, but learn to live in the domain of drudgery by the power of God… The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I do my duty, not for duty’s sake, but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience the whole superb grace of God is mine through the Atonement!” Oswald Chambers
Even our small acts of obedience, done out of trust in our Lord, are filled with the full power of God’s grace. A heart set on living in servitude to him is what God desires; obedience is obedience.
Lord, forgive me for making the all too common error of thinking you are more pleased with the world-changing evangelist than the community changing, obedient woman who shares Christ with others, will not tolerate your name used in vain, and is intent on training up her children in your word! These daily, routine acts of obedience train our hearts to trust him more and cause us to live out his written word.
It reminds of the interaction between the Lord and Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13, “And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him…”
I want to be wherever God is leading me, whether that is in the earthquakes of the big callings in life or the low whispers of the small. I enCOURAGE you to trust in the Lord with all of your heart for every size task he puts before you.