"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Friday, March 30, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: LION OF JUDAH

An image of Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia pops into my head whenever I think of Jesus as a lion. Aslan is not only powerful and just, He is gentle and full of love.

Think for a moment how surprising God is. Ann Spangler writes, “Who could have imagined God on a cross, who is a King and Servant, a Lion and a Lamb, a God whose justice is trumped by his mercy? Aren’t you glad that God’s ways are not your ways and that his thoughts are as far above yours as the heavens are above the earth?”

I sure am.

May you feel His mighty arms around you this week. May His fierce protection and gentle love find you in every situation and every minute of your day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Jesus Storybook Bible

Last week I talked about the best parenting book I’ve ever read, called Give Them Grace. This week I want to share a children’s Bible with you that I have come to love.

My children are five and seven, and we’ve been through at least a dozen different Bibles, many more than once. That’s why I hesitated to get yet another one. How many ways can you tell the same stories?

Turns out, there is another way.

The Jesus Storybook Bible doesn’t just tell individual stories—it tells one big story. The biggest, grandest, most important story we or our children will ever need to hear. This Bible ties together the Old Testament with the New. Every story whispers Jesus’s name.

I could go on, but I think I’ll let you get a taste for yourself from an excerpt at the beginning of the book.

“No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne—everything—to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is—it’s true…[It’s a] Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.”

I love how this simple children’s Bible speaks to my own heart. I haven’t read any other like it.

Do you have favorite books you share with your children? I’d love to hear what they are!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: BRIGHT MORNING STAR

In ancient times, the morning star was the sign of a new day about to be born. It signaled the birth of hope and joy. It comes as no surprise then, that it is also one of the many names of Jesus.

Ann Spangler writes, "I wonder, did human beings panic when they saw the sun go down for the very first time? Were they heartened by a brilliant white light hanging low in the western sky? If so, they were probably gazing at the evening star, which just so happens to be the second planet from the sun. Yes, Venus is both the morning and the evening star, a steady brightness that reminds us of the One who lights up our darkness and chases away our gloom."

May your day be filled with the Bright Morning Star!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Calling All Christian Parents To Grace

If you’re anything like me, you’ve read more than your fair share of parenting books. Maybe even a few Christian ones. After all, don’t we all want our children to turn out okay? To be happy? To get a good job, have a nice family? To be “good” people?

Good. Huh. Funny word.

I recently read a book that turned my philosophy on parenting upside-down. Tullian Tchividjian writes that Give Them Grace by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson “takes the radical, untamable, outrageous nature of the gospel seriously and applies it to parenting.”

And it does.

It’s almost crazy how we tend to parent our children. I don’t know about you, but the majority of my energy spent parenting goes into making sure my kids behave. Speak respectfully. Love one another—ahem, especially your brother. Share your toys. Do your homework. Listen to ME. Just be good for goodness sake!

But who are we to tell our kids they need to be good? They can’t be good. We can’t be good.
We all need a Savior. And I can’t be my children’s Savior. I can’t even try. It’s too exhausting, too impossible. All I can do is point them to Jesus. Dazzle them with His love.

I can picture some of you getting antsy in your seat. But what about discipline? What about order and expectations? Please be assured that Give Them Grace does not advocate bad behavior in children. We are parents. God has given us our children as a gift. It is our responsibility to train them. But God is in charge. And if we don’t acknowledge that, if we don’t lead our children to God’s love every day, we are missing the point.

Grace isn’t about good behavior or morality. It’s not about second chances. And it’s certainly not about hypocrisy and self-righteous thinking. It’s about one thing: resting in Jesus’s blood and His righteousness. So give them Jesus.

Give them grace.

And when they behave badly and their words or actions pierce your heart, give them more. Not because it’s in your power to do so, but because your faith is in grace Himself, Jesus Christ.

If there’s one parenting book I’d choose to guide me, Give Them Grace would be the winner by far.

Next week I’ll be sharing a special Bible for children that is like no other and encompasses the message of grace. Until then, what do you think of parenting with grace? Do you often struggle like I do? How do you dazzle your kids with the love of Jesus?

I’m over at Lia London’s blog today talking about why I call myself a grace-clinger. I’d love it if you stopped by! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: CORNERSTONE

The term "cornerstone" refers to an important stone that stabilizes a building, usually by holding together two interlocking rows of stones.

So what do those numerous passages in the Bible referring to Jesus as the Cornerstone mean? Just that. He is our stabilizer. Our main support. Without Him, everything would fall apart.

The gospel message is really not that difficult, if we can grasp the cornerstone of our faith. Ann Spangler writes that often "we cannot quite believe that the good news is as good as it is. So we try to add to it...let's get it straight today. The cornerstone of our faith is this: if we confess with our mouths, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved."


Monday, March 12, 2012

Contests and Novel Rocket

I’m speaking a little about my contest experience with Novel Rocket on their website today. Click here to come on over!

As far as contests I’m participating in this year, I’ve narrowed it down to two: American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis Contest (this is always first on my list!) and My Book Therapy’s The Frasier Contest. The Frasier is new for me, but I’ve heard plenty of good things about it.

How about you? What contests, if any, do you enter? How do you decide which ones/how many to choose?

Photo credit: Novel Rocket website

Friday, March 9, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: THE WORD

As a fierce lover of words, I have to admit that this name of Jesus is one of my favorites. Ann Spangler writes that "everything about Jesus--his teaching, miracles, suffering, death, and resurrection--speaks to us of God." How amazing is that? Even more awesome is that all of it is right at our fingertips, in the Bible.

Yet how often do I take this Book for granted? I skim my favorite verses for comfort and peace instead of diving in and tackling those harder passages. They should not be ignored. Each and every scripture is God-breathed. Every one points to God's amazing plan and to His Son, Jesus.

During times when I am weak, I need to remember that He is strong. He is not only the Word, but He is my Great Intercessor.

"Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Romans 8:34).

Praying this truth speaks to you today and the days to come!

photo credit: flickr

Monday, March 5, 2012

Social Networking and Sweaty Palms

I have a feeling that for many of you, social networking and your eccrine glands are not directly related. You’ve been blogging much longer than I have. You probably have about nine-hundred enthusiastic Facebook friends. Your brilliant Twitter posts draw attention, dozens of retweets, replies, and new followers.

At least, that’s how I often perceive things.

As if I’m the only one swimming upstream in this crazy world of social media. As if I’m the only one who would rather be planning my next novel than thinking up clever things to say on Facebook. As if I’m the only one with sweaty palms as I push that blue “Tweet” button.

I know a significant part of moving past this anxiety is to just do it. Keep pushing. Keep blogging. Keep tweeting. Keep connecting.

And you know what? As much as I dragged myself into this entire social networking thing, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’m so very glad I did. I’ve met so many amazing people (yes, I’m talking about you!). My knowledge on the craft of writing has grown. I’ve come to realize that I’m not aloneDespite the sweaty palms, I’m persevering. I’m growing.

And there’s plenty more room for growth.

So, just in case I’m not the only one with a rapidly beating heart as I push “Publish” on my 102nd blog post, I decided to gather (and reread) some of my favorite blog posts on social media.

Michael Hyatt on Twitter and Blogging

What is your favorite part of social networking? Is there any part of social media that makes you nervous?

photo credit: flickr

Friday, March 2, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: RABBI, TEACHER

Rabbi. Teacher. These are not the first words that come to my mind when I think of Jesus. But He calls us to draw close to Him, to study His life and teachings, and to allow His Spirit to change us into His image. He calls us to learn from Him.

As I study the gospels, I can't help but notice one of Jesus' favorite forms of teaching: a parable. A story. One of His most popular stories is that of the mustard seed. Ann Spangler writes that "when Jesus compared the advance of his kingdom to the smallest of seeds that grows into the tallest of plants, he immediately created a vivid and encouraging image for his disciples."

I learned something this week that's made all the difference in my walk of faith, and that I believe Jesus was trying to teach with this parable. So here's some food for thought: perhaps it is not a matter of how big or little your faith is. More likely, what matters is who you put your faith in.

Jesus. Immanuel. Light of the World. Lamb of God. King of Kings. Prince of Peace. Teacher.

Who are you trusting in this day?