Saturday, December 16, 2017

Be the Joy!

Christmas is a season of joy.  Bring that joy to others and let them see that for Christian's its a foundational year round life-style.
Joy.  We glitter wooden ornaments with the word.  We see it inscribed on Christmas cards.  We proclaim it in song: “Joy to the world.”  

It is the Christian’s claim.  We are people of joy.  

Joy is powerfully attractive.  Not the smug happiness of having everything but the basic foundational attitude that there is in fact much to rejoice about in this world.  That despite today's natural disaster, the world God made is good.  Despite Satan’s depredations, the people God called are declared righteous and holy.  Despite all of our short term sorrows, despite death, sin, and terror, Jesus has triumphed and will continue to reign until His Father has put all things under His footstool. 

This is how and why Christians are people of joy. 

Not pie in the sky fools but people grounded in the solid anchor of hope in the face of every ugly storm Satan sends.

This attitude is entirely refreshing to a world bathed in anger, cynicism, hatred, and disgust.  To a jailer in Phillipi considering suicide, the sweet song of joyful prisoners was the sound of hope. Our joy in troubles echoes that ancient hymn. Peter instructs us to stand ready to give an answer for that hope. 

This Christmas season, let me encourage you to do something joyful.  Wish every Scrooge a merry Christmas.  Got the extra mile to bring delight to someone with less reason to rejoice than you.  (Say a dozen Christmas cookies to an elderly neighbor?)  Share your Christian long-view that when our Lord returns He will set this old world to right, rebirthed in a new heavens and new earth, a world fulfilling today’s little joys with the great joys of eternity!  And smile, friend.  Smile. And let the world know that God has given us something to smile about. 


PS: There will be another video to share soon!  Keep an eye out for in your email or the Facebook page.  (What?  You are not on the email?  Subscribe here and get the PDF: 21 days to Evangelism!)

PSS: If you were looking to buy one of my books to give for a Christmas present, time is almost up! 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas In the Middle of a Mess

Have you ever been in the middle of a mess?

I don’t mean a polite middle class mess where you roll your eyes and complain with the other moms about decorations that aren’t up or a Pinterest masterpiece turned into burnt offering.  I mean the sort of mess that buries you in shame.  

Christmas is a time for evangelism, a time to include those who are suffering from divorce, grief, financial messes and addiction.  Jesus came in the middle of a mess to help us!  Let's reach out to help others.In the middle of a mess like that we feel entirely unloveable.  We are convinced that if someone knew the truth we would be a pariah.  We hide.  We lie.  We try frantically to clean up our chaos hoping against hope that somehow no one will notice.  We tell ourselves all kinds of stories that start with "bad luck" and end with "never again" and some of them are even true. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

7 Ways to NOT Reach the Lost this Christmas

How NOT to Reach the Lost this Christmas! Tips and simple actionable Evangelism ideas this Christmas.
The Top 7 Ways to NOT reach the Lost this Christmas

7. At least once a day post something on Facebook that includes, “Like the Baby Jesus and receive a blessing today!”
6. Shout “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” at everyone who dares to wish you, "Happy Holidays."
5. Give complex explanations about the historical/mythical syncretism that connect Christmas and Saturnalia.
4. Every time some one says, “Elf on a Shelf” mutter “Tool of Satan” under your breath.
3. Insist that political correctness is ruining Christmas.  Lecture everyone who will listen on how President Trump will save us from this travesty.
2. Give out tracts instead of Christmas presents.

And...last but not least!

1. Focus on your family, your presents, your shopping, your music, your decorations and your traditions.  Just let the season slip away without seeing those around you who are lost and longing for Jesus.

Of course I say all that tongue in cheek.  And if you really think that the Elf on the Shelf is a tool of Satan, we can talk about it.  I think that little guy is super creepy myself.  But here is the point: vaunting our (however sincere) thoughts on Christmas, doesn't necessarily help people see Christ.

Every Christian nods her heads when I say "we should reach out to anyone and everyone who is willing to talk about Jesus!" And yet Christmas rolls around and we aren't effectively talking to the lost about Jesus at one of the few times of a year He is on their minds.  Sometimes that is because we are entangled in our own “issues," and sometimes that is because we are embroiled in our own pain and sorrow. But frequently it is because while are enjoying our holiday, the days slip by. 

How NOT to Reach the Lost this Christmas! Tips and simple actionable Evangelism ideas this Christmas.For the last couple of years I have posted Christmas meditations--short thoughts about our lives and their relation to the Christmas story.  (I've gathered them into an ebook!  Check out our Holiday Bundles).  But this year, for the sake of the lost and for the sake of those who should be searching for them, I am going to be posting some connections we can make between the people we are reaching out for and the Christ who came reaching down for them.

Join me this month for posts to help you help the people you care about and for videos that can be shared on Facebook or via email directly with lost folks. (Ready to get started today?  Subscribe today and receive a PDF: 21 days to Effective Evangelism.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Theology is for Girls Too!

I was not a particularly charming child. Yet, the minister at our church, Clay Woods, and his wife Karen took a very grandparently interest in me.  I was as awkward and gawky as could be.  But they saw this love for studying about God in me and thought it well worth cultivating. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

7 Ways to Develop Thankfulness in Your Kids

Learning to be grateful can be tough for kids. See "7 Ways To Develop Thankfulness in Your Kids" for details! With Thanksgiving around the corner, kids are making turkeys traced from their fingers and scribbling their blessings on it.  Our whole country for a few short weeks focuses on the reasons we have to be thankful.  As parents we want more for our kids then a week’s worth of gratitude.  We want them to understand and be grateful everyday for all the blessings in their lives.  But how?  

Today, I have 7 tips for Christian parents to help their kids develop thankfulness in their daily lives. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Spiritual Gift-Giving Guide

Spiritual Gift-Giving Guide.  Christians can give and receive gifts that nurture their relationship with God.
 The internet has already had its yearly explosion of STUFF. Gadgets and gizmos, clothes and chocolate covered cherries, boots and baby dolls.  And I have nothing against any of those things.  In fact, I'll be buying such things for the people I love this Christmas.  But perhaps like me, you'd like to offer something more than trinkets.  A gift that represents the way they love God.  A gift that nurtures their Bible Study and encourages them sink into the Word of God.  A gift that let's the world know they are believers from the heart.  What gift could be more appropriate than a spiritual gift?

You'll find here gifts for the men in your life, fathers, brothers, sons, elders, ministers and friends.  You'll find gifts for the sisters of your heart, mothers, sisters, teachers, daughters, and dearest friends. And don't forget the kids you love, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, students and little friends. 

The Men in our Lives


Good Words to Gladden the Heart (Volume 1) and (Volume 2): Mr. Slater has been preaching as long as I have been alive.  And these two devotional books are chock full of the wisdom that comes from those years of ministry.  Sweet and simple these would be great for a daily devotional or to share with a family at the breakfast table.  Each devotional has a scripture, song, prayer and devotional thought.

Mastering Life Before It's Too Late: 10 Biblical Strategies for a Lifetime of Purpose - Mr. Morgan builds his book around ten "patterns" for mastering life. This is not "Ten lifestyle choices to make you feel great!"  No, the author's stated goal for following these patterns is to be "pleasantly productive" in the kingdom of God.  Our days are limited, he says, and the only way we can make a difference is by managing our own lives. Read the review here.

Convicted: A Scientist Examines the Evidence for Christianity If you've ever wanted all the apologetics information you could want in one place, this is the book for you.  This would be an invaluable resource for young people just going to college. Read the review here. 

The New Inductive Study Bible (NASB) This Bible is a study method and Bible all in one package.  Package this gift with a box of colored pencils, and your loved one will be all set to begin studying the Bible in a deeper way.Read the review here.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy Eric Metaxes writes a biography of Nazi-era theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which will be enjoyed by the amateur historians/theologians or the novel-lovers on your list. Read the review here.

More Than a Passing Glance: Early Christian Art 
Most Bible students have never participated in an in-depth study of Christian images. Discover some of the most common symbols used by the early church, and learn why they are important and how they relate to the Bible. Great for your history, art or theology lover!


The Sisters of our Hearts


Women of Action: Transformed by Obedience:  Do you have a woman in your life who is loves God and longs to be transformed by Him?  This is the perfect book for her. And if you buy it from us, we have a special promotion. Give Women of Action as a gift and get a gift from us: A PDF of 12 Christmas Meditations. Click through to learn more. 
 A Christmas gift-giving guide for Christian book lovers.  Forget the gadgets and gizmos and give your friends or loved ones a spiritual gift.

To be a Handmaid of the Lord: The updated edition is appropriate for women of all ages and situations.  It is structured as a study guide.  By in large each lesson is a series of insightful questions pointed at a particular topic.  Some of these lessons focus on specific women of the Bible and others on character traits that we should be developing.  The questions vary from very straightforward, "List the fruit of the Spirit. (9 things)"  to much more complex, "Read Romans 13:1-2.  Should we obey the government? YES or NO If "yes" was Jochebed (Num. 25:59) right to hide her son? (Acts 5:29)."  And they all draw the reader on to find the answers themselves in the Word. Read the review here. 

Life Lessons from the Book of Ruth: A Woman's Inspirational Study Guide for Living
Life Lessons From the Book of Ruth is an inspirational study guide for women. The book focuses on the motives and transformational life lessons in Ruth. Ruth teaches us to live righteously and happily in the service of God. 

Hearts on Fire: Susan Elliott who authored this series operates the site Church of Christ Women Authors and loves helping Christian authors get traction in their respective genres.  Each of the Hearts on Fire books stands independently but reflect Susan's desire to encourage women to study and obey the word of God. 

Has peace eluded you, despite your best efforts? Have you lost your joy? It's easy to feel helpless when everything pushes and pulls at us. Thankfully, you don't have to feel this way. Real peace and contentment come from the study of God's Word. Within the pages of the Bible are the secrets to a joyful life. My Heart Will Not Be Troubled teaches you how to leave heartache and grief behind, and recreate your life into one filled with hope, peace, and joy. Why not leave all your troubles behind, and grab hold of a new beautiful life?

Why live with your head bowed in sorrow when you can rejoice? It’s no secret that life’s hard, but you can learn to find the joy in everyday moments, despite the hardships that come your way. Rejoice Sister! You Have Ever Reason fosters your love for God and helps you build a stronger personal faith. Through this study, you will learn to be happy, grow in joy, and apply God’s wisdom in your life. You have nothing lose and everything to gain when you learn how to rejoice!

Why not add a little spiritual devotion to your daily life? Daily Spiritual Growth for Your Life is a collection of thirty articles on various topics. These devotionals will change you, charge you and encourage you to keep on keeping on. You can never spend too much time thinking about God’s word during a day. Daily Spiritual Growth for Your Life tackles topics that are relevant to every Christian’s life. Each devotional is designed to make you think, and come away with a greater understanding of each subject. This study will guide you to a greater joy on your spiritual walk, and a more vigorous zeal for putting God first in your life. So, why not add a little growth to your spiritual life, and spend the next thirty days in devotion?

The Apostle Paul spent his life trying to make amends for his mistreatment of Christians. He traveled thousands of miles, instructed congregations and taught a young man named Timothy. His lessons stand the test of time and are just as essential today as when they were first penned. Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth is a verse by verse topical study. Paul charged the young preacher to preach the word, and that charge is still ours today. Step into a study that will make the word come alive before your eyes and help you apply the timeless concepts found within Paul’s letter to your life. You can learn to rightly divide the truth, and live a full life of love, happiness, and hope.

Holy Labor: How Childbirth Shapes a Woman's Soul:As a younger woman I served as a doula and a child birthing instructor.  Finding material with a Christian understanding of childbirth (as opposed to scientific/medical texts or texts that focused on the birthing mother as a "goddess") was nearly impossible.  Holy Labor's author Aubry Smith is both a mother and a theologian.  I would recommend this book for any expectant Christian mother.

Redeemed, Purified & Peculiar: A Study of TitusRedeemed, Purified & Peculiar: A Study of Titus is an in-depth look at the book of Titus. Although Titus is a tiny little book in the New Testament, it is full of valuable lessons. Paul teaches Titus fundamental lessons that include how to better live as Christians, the organization of the church, and how to treat false teachers. Why not dig deep into this text, and discover the treasure contained therein? 

Scripture Writing Journals: Angela Legg from The Diligent Woman has compiled many of her scripture writing plans into beautiful journals.  

Words on My Heart - Diligence: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 1)

Words on My Heart - Love: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 2)

Words on My Heart - Wisdom: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 3)

Words on My Heart - Parents and Children: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 4)

Words on My Heart - Obedience: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 5)

Words on My Heart - Comfort: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 6)

Words on My Heart- Joy: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 7)

Words on My Heart - Peace: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 8)

Words on My Heart - Sound Words: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 9)

Words on My Heart - Prayer: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 10)

Words on My Heart- Thanksgiving: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 11)

Words on My Heart - Promises Kept: Going Deeper into Scripture through Writing (Volume 12)

Similarly, Angela Legg from The Diligent Woman has also compiled her series, "31 Days of Women from Scripture" into convenient Bible Studies. 

31 Days of Women from Scripture Volume 1: Bible Study Guide

31 Days of Women from Scripture Volume 1: Companion Study Journal

31 Days of Women from Scripture Volume 2: Bible Study Guide

31 Days of Women in Scripture Volume 2: Companion Study Journal (31 Days of Women in Scripture Journal)


Bookmarks:  Designs By DJ has prepared bookmarks for all your holiday needs!  You can grab a set of 5, 10 or 50 for a very affordable price.  They are beautiful and perfect for tucking in your holiday cards, giving to the women in your ladies Bible class, or offering to coworkers as a quiet way to share your faith. Order your bookmarks here.

Diligent Woman Gear:  If you are like me there are plenty of women in your life who are amazingly diligent. Maybe they don't always get it right but day after day year after year they are warriors in prayer, in motherhood, as wives and in their homes.  Reward them with some awesome gear! Like this iPhone 6 case.  This lined journal.  Or this t-shirt.

The Kids We Love

The Little Guys

First Virtues (padded cover): 12 Stories for Toddlers. My preschool class LOVES this book.  Each story highlights one virtue (for example obedience) and then tells a short rhymed tale of a character who exemplifies the characteristic.  An ideal read aloud for the 2-4 crowd!

Pray & Play Bible for Young Children and Pray & Play Bible 2:  Some of the absolute favorite songs of my preschoolers have come from these books.  Although they are techinically not curriculum each lesson has songs, finger play, prayers and other ways to connect the story to the minds of young children.  The book is large, beautifully illustrated, and very accessible.

Kids and Tweens

The Unofficial Holy Bible for Minecrafters: A Children's Guide to the Old and New Testament: We bought our younger daughter a copy of New Testament: Stories from the Bible Told Block by Block last Christmas.  She doesn't know it, (SHHHH) but the Old Testament: Stories from the Bible Told Block by Block version of the Minecraft Bible is coming home for Christmas. The stories are adorably illustrated with Minecraft screen shots. The dialogue is humorous without being irreverent.  Any kid who is old enough to really get into Minecraft should be old enough for the books.

Hannah's One Hundred: Volume 4  We have received a CD of Hannah's hundred volume 4 from my mom last year.  In the 12 months my daughter has had it she has memorized every song on the CD.  That doesn't sound impressive until you realize that this means she memorized the entire book of James!  The songs are hokey; there's no getting around it.  But what 9 year old doesn't love hokey? See the other volumes here.

Strong Plants and Sculptured Pillars:The teen devotional is everything I could wish for.  It is accessible, faith-building, application-based, and focused on helping teens see how God has always valued the contributions of young people. Giving this book as a gift puts you in a position to encourage the teens in your life as they search for and follow God. Read the review here. 

Will You Be My Friend?: Growing Friends Within the ChurchMaking friends is hard, no matter our age. Will You Be My Friend reminds us to open ourselves up to relationships, and teaches us how to become real friends with those around us. While this book is geared toward a church family, its lessons are applicable in all areas of our life.

Student Workbook: Choose You This DayChoose You This Day asks, “Is there any reason to choose Christianity over all other faiths?” In fact, there are many. Every other world religion is man reaching up to God; Christianity alone is God reaching out to man: the only God who loves the world so much that He sent His own Son to die for us. The Christian God is the only God who offers us grace in our weakness, forgiveness in our sin, love even when we hate and reject Him, and life when we deserve death. 

The God Who Sees: Lessons from Another Perspective: This is absolutely one of my favorite books for teens!  I love the mixture of accessibility (each story is explained clearly) and complexity. I would recommend this as a gift to any young Christian.  Read the full review here.

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Some of the products reviewed here were received for free in exchange for an honest review! Our review policy is to return materials that we can't wholeheartedly endorse.  I absolutely loved each and every one of them or I wouldn't be recommending them to you.