Is Christianity Dead?

An amazing insight for every Christian!

BeautyBeyondBones

Well folks, another Christmas is in the books!

Christmas 2K16 is officially behind us. The eggnog has been consumed. Gifts gifted. Food coma endured. And for those brave souls who took on a real tree this year, its pine needles are officially all over the floor and will be mysteriously appearing in randomcrevicesfor the next 4 months.

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Ever since I was of “appropriate age,” my family has always gone to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It is one of my favorite memories and traditions. The caroling at 11pm. The candles. The trumpets. For the past, say, 15+ years, we have been going, and every year, we’d always get there right at 11:00, throwing elbows, and staking out our pew, as it is always standing room only. And don’t even bother coming at 11:15…because there will be no parking and you’re guaranteed to be standing – two deep – in the…

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A Surprise Blessing At Walmart

500 Word Challenge  1/6/2017

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A Surprise Blessing From Walmart

Now, when I go to Walmart I seldom think of it as an opportunity for a blessing, some bargains maybe, but not a blessing.

But I recently went to there in search of a day timer for the new year, which I didn’t find. However, a unique journal caught my eye. I do a lot of journaling and often will pick up a journal when I see them on sale so I always have a spare.

It was bright green with a cutout of a butterfly on the front cover. The page behind the cover revealed a beautiful purple butterfly. It was the purple butterfly that actually caught my eye.  My sister, Lois, who went to be with the Lord several years ago, always loved butterflies, any kind of butterfly. We often talked about the significant of the butterfly, not just about how beautiful and unique God created each one, but more about the picture of new life they represented to us as Christians. We saw them as the story of how God had given us new life through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We, like the caterpillar start out crawling along and not getting very far on our own. One day we find ourselves all wrapped up in this world much like the caterpillar when it is caught up in the cocoon. In this dark and dormant state our Creator is at work behind the scene with a plan to make us into something beautiful, both us and the butterfly.

The very cocoon we find ourselves in, the cocoon that makes us helpless to do anything for ourselves opens our eyes to see our total dependence on God.

We struggle to try to free ourselves from this helpless state. We want out of the discomfort, to be free of the struggle, we want out now, but if we come out to early we will miss out on God’s best but if we wait on God’s timing and trust Him in the struggles we will realize God can and wants to use the struggles to develop in us the strength and the faith we need. He can make us into something beautiful for our good and His glory. He wants us to soar and be a blessing to those who see His beauty in us and bring Him glory.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecc. 3:1 NKJ)

My lesson for today, blessings can be found anywhere, even in Walmart!

 

The Butterfly Story (A Bonus Attachment)

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Life’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Remember God needs no help. There are processes of life, things we all go through. The struggles are a part of our journey and are God can use them to prepare us for His awesome plan for us. He is preparing us to fly.

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You Never Have Nothing To Write

500 word challenge

1/5/17communications 1

“You Never Have Nothing To Write”

I once read a quote, though I can’t remember where, that said, “You never have nothing to write.” That made sense to me at the time because, after all, there is always something you can write about. There are flowers, animals, jobs, weather, opinions (oh how there are opinions), politics, love, sorrow and so much more.

However, on only the third day of this writing challenge I accepted where I have to write 500 words a day for 31 days I find myself at the keyboard and my mind is blank! I have nothing to write!

I was a up at 5:30 am and had so many thoughts on what I would write about and I even started hand writing what I decided on the material I had chosen. But alas, I had to go to work and by the time I got home and supper was over I went to start writing and I could not find my notes. I not only couldn’t find my notes but I couldn’t even remember what it was I was planning to write about, ugh!

I have come to realize that much of my inspiration comes early in the morning and even sometimes in the middle of the night. It is probably the only time God can get my attention.The ideas are all so clear at the time but if I don’t get up and write it down I often lose it. Therefore, I believe after today I will be doing as much of my writing as possible in the morning, before work. If I can’t do that I will at least put my ideas on the computer while they are fresh in my mind and put it together later.

Now the issue is what time to get up. I am an early riser by nature but in order to be on time to work I will need to get up by 5 am or earlier and do it consistently. In other words I need to be more disciplined in scheduling my time to make sure I have time set aside for writing.

I love to write and it brings me joy. I know writing is what I am suppose to be doing but I have had trouble seeing it as worthwhile use of my time. When I am sitting writing I often think of other things I feel I should be doing, even feel like I am being lazy.

The more I write though, the more I know it is worthwhile, if for no one else but the writer.  I believe there is value in sharing experiences both for the person sharing and those who can relate to the experiences we share.

Well I am close to my 500 words (so thankful for word count) so I will wind this exercise up by sharing my insight into all of this. It turns out that it is true, “You never have nothing to write” and if you don’t write an idea down you will lose it .

So I will write to practice the skill, write to share experiences, write to encourage others, write for the sheer joy of writing, but write because there is always something to write about!

Won’t you join me:-)

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Looking For A Leader

Hard questions

Over the last year young and old of every race and every religion have been looking for a leader. This past years election cycle will probably go down in history as the most unusual election cycle in our nation.

The election is over now but as I think about all the different opinions I see that everyone is really looking for the same thing.

We are looking for a leader who is radically different.

A leader who will:

* stand up to the establishment

* Look out for the needs of the masses as well as the individual and provide for those needs.

* Put the needs of others ahead of their own comfort

* Give all people real hope and change for a better future

* Provide a resting place where people can feel safe and secure

* Provide justice and mercy, fairness and forgiveness

We all want a someone with a proven track record in all of the above. Someone whose plans, when followed, never failed.

Sounds impossible but that leader we are looking for has been right in front of us for over 2000 years. The most radical leader of all time, who has never been equaled – not even close. It is Jesus Christ!

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”                                                                                                                                                                 John 1:1

He is not an establishment figure

His message was and still is definitely one of hope and change

He never wavers in the truth and exposes the lies

He knows our every need and has the ability to meet every need and His resources are unlimited

His desire is to reach out to and meet the needs of every person of every race, gender and nation

He is always just and fair

He has a purpose and plan for every life and there are multitudes who have followed Him and give testimony to the details and outcomes of the plans in real-time for years.

His “super pack” was twelve men who spoke truth, His truth. They served and took care of others ahead of their own needs. They defended the weak, widowed and orphans. This super pack stood firm in their faith and in the truth even where there was personal insult and injury, standing up against the establishment for what was right and what was truth.

We have a new president-elect now who will soon take over to lead our country and we should be praying for him as he leads. Things are still somewhat unsettled and probably will continue to be even into the next election. It will always be that way with men!

But no matter what our political views are, with God we can always have that hope and change we long for. Christ is the Leader of leaders, the King of kings. Christ alone can bring us the peace we need in this crazy world we live in if we will follow Him.

He is the only leader I  know with the perfect resume.

Why not follow the Leader!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Intentions Are Not Enough

 

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500 Words a Day Challenge

1/3/17

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

My intentions for over ten years has been to become a writer. I thought about it, talked about it and read about it and did a Bible study for Christian writers. I even started a blog, View From The Bird House, and wrote several blog posts. But the one thing I didn’t do was build a writing habit and think of myself as a writer. It was what I wanted to do but didn’t really believe I was good enough to do it or to call myself a writer.

Because of my age I thought it was to late to start writing. After all I was not well known except in my own family, friends and church family circles. I was a nobody and who would want to read what I wrote anyway.

As a retired nurse, wife, mom, grandma and great grandma what would I have to write about that others would be interested in. Had it not been for a writer friend I would not have even tried, I thank God for her because she opened up the joy of writing for me. And after much prayer and meditation on Scripture God confirmed in me that He was calling me to write and share a message of hope and encouragement to others.

God had given me a gift and desire for writing and he confirmed that through that close friend who is a writer, others who have commented on my blogs and most of all because I find real joy when I write.

So, now I am struggling to learn how to write and to develop a writing habit so that I can develop my blog. That is what brought me to accept this challenge to write 500 words a day for 31 days.

My long-term goal is to one day finish a book I started (barely, I think I have the dedication and intro done). A book that I hope will bring hope and encouragement to those who are struggling with regrets over choices made in the past, discouragement with the present and feel there is no hope for their future.

The book is based on a true story of one who went from favor to fear, from fear to failure, from failure to forgiveness and a fresh start. It isn’t my story, although it could be.

We all struggle at times, we all have fears and failures, and we all need a fresh start at times so I hope to take my readers down the path from regrets over fears and failures to victory and a fresh start in whatever area they are struggling.

These are my intentions, my purposes for writing. But they will never happen if I am not writing.

So, I join you fellow writers in this challenge and I welcome your encouragement and your critique because I need that to help me become the best writer I can be.

Because intentions are not enough!

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“Education or Transformation?”

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Then Jesus came to them (the disciples) and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:16-20

These are the instructions Jesus gave to the leadership of the early church after His resurrection and before His ascension back to the Father.They were to go, to make disciples, to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to teach them to obey His commands. Jesus prefaced his command with a proclamation that “all authority” was His to give such a command and followed the command with a promise to be with them “to the very end of the age”.

This was and still is the primary work of the church!

However, I believe it is one of the greatest challenges facing the church today. We  invite, entertain, include, educate, baptize, teach them God’s commands and add them to the membership rolls.

Now all these things are important but it seems that in our haste to move new believers along we tend to jump over the “making disciples” part. And I believe one reason we do is because we aren’t sure how to disciple because we may not have been discipled ourselves. God has been convicting me in the area of making disciples but, honestly, I didn’t know how.

Unfortunately, we, “the Church”, in varying degrees, seems to have lost the focus on “making disciples” and in many of our churches we have become more of a social club, entertainment club, and/or an educational center where we can learn many things about what Scripture teaches and the principles we are to live by but fail to move God’s truth from our heads to our hearts, our hands, and our feet. We are not often challenged to put them into practice and can become comfortable with gaining information but not  walking in obedience to God’s commands and according to His principles. Therefore, we see little transformation in our lives. Some who have been Christians for years don’t know how to disciple because many have not yet been taught discipleship themselves, present company not excluded!

To many times I have been guilty of wanting to make it comfortable for new believers so I didn’t challenge them with the truths that sometimes are difficult to live by and in so doing have watered down the scriptures. After all they were saved, and were doing all the things they needed to do.  They were attending church, getting involved in a ministry in the church, tithing, and the list goes on, but there was no significant maturing of fruit in lives as a result of the doing. I realize now believers should do all those things but we also need to be challenged by the God’s word to be more Christlike in our daily activities.

We have programs to increase attendance, to grow the Sunday school and children’s programs and increase membership numbers. We post attendance and offering numbers (see my blog post) Are We Counting What Really Counts There are places on our annual reports for the number of those accepting Christ as Savior and those sanctified.

But how many disciples are we making who are in turn discipling others? Do we have effective training in our churches in discipleship or are we teaching new believers just enough to make them comfortable in their salvation so they can get into heaven but possibly with the smell of smoke on their coattails?

Having been involved in both Bible Studies and Sunday school classes where the teaching on Scripture was excellent and ideas for practical application were discussed yet often where there were few testimonies shared of how God’s truth had transformed lives or the lives of others. To often the story of our conversion, important as it is, is the only testimony we have, but that should only be the beginning. God’s continued changing grace through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit adds to our testimony and God’s power can be seen in our lives as we walk in humble obedience to the principles and commands in His word every day.

However, if what we learn is not applied to everyday life; if we don’t meditate on God’s truths and let them become the guiding force in our lives, we have education but without transformation. We grow in knowledge but lack understanding and do not mature in our faith and we miss out on His best for us. If we don’t interact with God and become  teachable; if we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking and understanding; if the truths of God are not seen in our lives how can it help others believe Jesus could transform their lives.

 

Are our small groups and Sunday school classes just providing information or seeing transformation as a result of spending time together in the Word?

If not, why not?

As we reach out to those who are lost and share the gospel and they respond by receiving Christ as their Savior do we continue to disciple them and help them to grow in their faith? Do we share scriptural truths and God’s commands and challenge them to live by them while sharing our testimony of the challenges where He has brought us victory? Do we share our own testimony of how God has transformed our lives and the lives of so many others?

Do we really disciple?

Are we making disciples?

Just what does it mean to “make disciples”?

Got Questions Ministries web site answers that question pretty well:

“A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christlike. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we be in the Word daily—studying it, praying over it, and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within us (1Peter 3:15) and to disciple others to walk in His way.”

(© Copyright 2002-2016 Got Questions Ministries)

Just how do we go about “making disciples”?

How do we measure how we are doing in this area of the Great Commission, “making disciples”?

In any educational institution there is always a book learning aspect so we know the basic principles we are working from and then a skills lab where we are shown a demonstration of how to apply the knowledge in order to connect what we learned from the book to practical application. Along the way there are test that include both aspects to evaluate proficiency in obtaining the desired outcomes for the skill and the course.

The Bible is our text book and Jesus is our instructor for the skills lab. He made it simple for us by demonstrating how it is done. All through life there are tests used to help us to grow and obtain God’s desired outcomes in us and in His church.

We simply follow the example Jesus set as he went out and chose 12 ordinary men and made disciples out of them, praying for them, spending time with them, speaking God’s truth to them,teaching them and challenging them to obey His commands and live by His principles. This is what should be happening in our Bible Studies, our Sunday School classes, our Small Groups. Praying, teaching, training and practicing the same principles that Jesus taught,  challenging and expecting those we are teaching to do the same. To follow our example as we follow Christ’s.

 

To make disciples we must pray for them, spend time with them, teach them from Scripture and by what the Father has given us to speak, practice what He taught and challenge them to do the same.

His disciples learned from him, watched him, saw how he taught them and followed his example. Believers in the early church followed the disciples example as they followed Christ’s and the church grew in strength and in faith and unity.

How do we measure? Not in tithes or attendance but in the strength and unity of our churches. In how we are able to reach the lost for Christ and make disciples who will go and do the same. And then we will see a steady increase in both tithe and attendance that will blow us away!

“I (Jesus) have set you and example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”                                                                                                                                        John 13:15-17

Is there someone willing to come along side of you to disciple you? Ask them!

Is there someone who needs you to come along side them to disciple them? Reach out to them!

Maybe your sensing a call to begin a discipleship ministry in your church? Start one!

You will be blessed if you do!!!

 

 

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Are We Counting What Really Counts

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For those of us that attend church on a regular basis or even those who are occasional attenders we probably all remember seeing one of the “Attendance and Offering Registers” hanging in a prominent place on the wall for everyone to see.

I often wondered just what purpose they served and have come to the conclusion that this information served two purposes depending on whether the current tally was a plus or a minus: 1. To encourage and/or  2. To motivate.

Now please don’t get all fired up and send me nasty-grams!

As one who has been a part of a church leadership team I do understand the importance and purpose of having attendance records and keeping track of finances. They both give leadership a measurable picture of where the church is headed and how to proceed. It helps to know how to plan to meet the needs of ministry in the most productive way  so that we honor God with the resources He supplies. I also understand that it’s good to have that same information available to the congregation to encourage them and to make them aware of where we are in our growth and finances, or lack of, and for financial accountability.

However what I don’t understand is why we don’t have a “Soul Register”? Isn’t our first priority to see souls come to Christ; to find salvation? And isn’t that the greatest measure of where we are spiritually and our success as the local body of believers?   Yet we don’t put up the stats for the number of souls saved as a result of ministry and sharing our faith, the Gospel.

It has been said by many in the leadership of the church that “It’s not about numbers, it’s about souls.” and I agree with that, however it is about the number of souls being saved.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

So why are they not counted on our church’s public registers? I can’t think of anything that should motivate  us more. Maybe we need to see those numbers and just maybe it would motivate us to step out in faith and share the message of salvation more often. God will provide the opportunities in our ministries in the church and individually, it is up to us to take advantage of them, and may it begin with “me”.

What do you think your church’s “Soul Register” would look like if you had one?

There is a register in heaven of all the souls saved and the angels rejoice over each and every one that comes to Christ, shouldn’t we?

 

 

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