Posts tagged Bible
It's an Honor!

As I make my way reading through the Bible, I began re-reading the book of Acts. I have written in the margin of my Bible the words "What an honor" next to the words of Acts 1:8.

Should any of us receive the high honor of being "knighted" by the Queen or appointed as an Ambassador for our country, we would stand a little taller. We would most likely carry ourselves with a sense of dignity and purpose, and yet humility knowing we had been chosen to represent not only a person, but a country. This kind of honor comes with not only privilege, but purpose.

A person in this position, recognizes the awesome responsibility they carry and they do so with a sense of duty and integrity so as to not defame the character of those they represent. Once this honor has been granted, they are under the watchful eye of the public. Character matters. One's choice of words, actions, places he visits, who he interacts with, and how he conducts himself is now under scrutiny. With prestige and honor also come responsibility. The chosen representative's behavior no longer reflect only himself, but rather his actions now are a reflection of who he represents.

Jesus, just before ascending into Heaven, appoints His disciples with these words: " But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Once He said this, he was taken in a cloud to God the Father. Before returning to Heaven, He left His followers with the responsibility and duty to now be the testimony and witness of God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus.

Have you ever stopped to consider the incredible privilege and honor you were appointed? You, like the disciples, have been chosen! You have been entrusted with an incredible honor to be a witness, like Jesus, of God the Father. Jesus says that we, as Believers, are His witnesses. Like an ambassador, we have been granted the ultimate privilege and honor to be a witness of Christ. Have you thought about that? Okay, maybe this privilege doesn't resonate with you...let me ask, what if you weren't chosen? I dare say, being chosen is an honor we best not take for granted or squander.

Brothers and sisters, hold your head high, walk upright with your shoulders back and represent the God of the universe well! Know who and whose you are! You are chosen. You are equipped. You are called. Get over yourself thinking life is all about you! It's not! Know your mission. Know your purpose...it's to know God and to bring Him glory. We are called to represent Him, not ourselves. Our character, our actions, our words are a reflection of who we have been chosen to represent. As sons and daughters of the King, this privilege carries more weight than being knighted by the Queen. We represent the God who made the Queen and knit her together in her mother's womb. 

We have the Holy Spirit to lead us, direct us, guide us. We have been given authority in the name of Jesus to be ambassadors, witnesses, for the God of the universe. Character matters. May we represent the one who chose us, well. What an honor!

Celebrating our Children's Spiritual Birthdays

It’s no secret that I like to have fun (always). I love to celebrate life, creating a space for making memories regardless of life circumstances or challenges. As a living life-to-the-fullest kind of gal, life is short and yet such a beautiful gift from God, our Creator, that making each day count is really important to me. Celebrating our spiritual life as well as our physical life is a gift we can give to our children.

Today is Reagan and Jordan’s spiritual birthday…13 years old!! They are 13 year old teenagers as daughters of the King! Monday is Riley’s spiritual birthday when she will turn 10…double digits!! January is a big month of celebrating God’s incredible gift of salvation, our redemption, and being reminded of who and whose we are in Him!

Why is it really important to celebrate our children’s spiritual birthdays? Personally, I think it reminds them of who they are in Christ. It reminds us all that this is not our home and that the things of this world pale in comparison of our eternal home. Our days are numbered and one day we will all spend eternity…somewhere. Being able to remind our children of their eternal home and that our days on earth are for God’s glory not our own, is really important to me. We celebrate our daughters physical birthdays in a variety of traditions we have created (I’ll share those another another post), but every January I want my 3 Princesses to be reminded they are royalty! They are daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They are created in the image of God-image bearers. They have been created to bring God glory and reflect Him in their words and actions…not just when they are adults but NOW as children and teens! When we remember who we are and whose name we bear and represent, it reminds us that our words matter, our actions, and behaviors mean something. I could not be more proud of my double digit (on Monday) Riley, and my two teenager daughters Reagan and Jordan and how they shine Jesus well!

Here are 3 practical ways you can celebrate your children’s spiritual birth:

  1. Remember! It seems easy, but just remembering to write down the date they ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of their lives is a big deal. The Bible is full of reminders and admonitions to His people to WRITE things down, TELL them to your children, CREATE stones of remembrance so that you will not forget! Every year, for us January 17 and January 21 we tell our girls Happy Birthday and celebrate their new life in Jesus. (If you or your child does not remember the actual date they asked Jesus into their lives, pick a date close to the time of year it was within the year it occurred, and celebrate that date each year.)

  2. Encourage! Find ways throughout the year to encourage your children spiritual. Make sure you are creating a time and space for them to have Jesus time. For my daughters, they do their own Jesus time independently, but sometimes I like to ask them what they are reading and learning. Make your home a place of continual conversation about Truth (Jesus), life from a Biblical worldview, and a peaceful place of worship with worship music as we point our children to Jesus in our 24/7.

  3. Memorize! Hiding God’s Word in your heart as a child is essential. The verses we know best as adults are the ones we memorized as children. Knowing God’s Word in our hearts will help convict and remind us of His truth in tough and challenging situations.

Be Still

Psalm 46:10 “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”

It’s been a few years since I have sat beside the absolute stillness of a lake in the wee hours of the morning just as the sun is rising.  When I say stillness, I almost need to add extra adjectives so one grasps how absolutely still the water appeared.  Looking out upon the water, it was if the Lord placed a beautiful mirror upon the surface reflecting back His glory.  This breathtaking view immediately brought me naturally into His presence, as it so clearly was such a display of the grandeur of His creation.  His words kept repeating in my heart…”Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still and dwell upon who God truly is, remember all that He has done and let your heart overflow with thanksgiving towards God who created all this beauty!

As I sat on a bench and enjoyed sipping on my coffee, it was difficult to not just break out in song to our majestic King.  In the silence of my heart I was singing but I was careful not to interrupt the holiness of the silent stillness.  (And I don’t actually sing and didn’t want to cause anyone experiencing this moment to be distracted.)

I didn’t want these moments to end but I knew the stillness would at one point become broken.  I grabbed my iPhone in an attempt to capture the beauty through a lens but of course any digital version pails in comparison to experiencing it with physically with all of your senses.  A photo lacks the true depth of the lake, the changing colors as the sun begins to glisten across the water, the feel of the gentle breeze and the smell of the water.  I want to capture this magnificence into a bottle and continue to live in this moment but I know that I cannot.

I take out my Bible and begin to read and spend some time allowing the Lord to speak to me through His word.  Over time some fish begin to come to the surface and cause a bubble to form, which sends a ripple effect of circles radiating across the water breaking the glasslike water…still beautiful but the perfect stillness was broken.  A few ducks then glide across the surface gracefully creating V’s which follow behind them.  Before I knew it, the breeze picked up and water begins to move with a continuous motion and I know at this point, the stillness of the early morning has left and the day has begun.  Even the boats are beginning to head out onto the water so the natural ebb and flow of the waves will continue until late into the evening.

I want to go back to the stillness but you just can’t calm the water once the movement has begun.

After thinking back on this, the Lord gently reminded me that this is how my heart is often like this.  The Lord wants to meet with me before all the activity of the day begins to disturb the stillness of my heart.  As I wake up each morning, I want my first moments to be taking in His beauty found in His Word without allowing the distractions of the world to lead me astray.

This morning I woke up early before the sun had a chance to rise and I quietly headed downstairs to my favorite table where my Bible, journal and pen awaited me.  I grabbed my coffee and sat down to allow God’s word to fill my heart.  What a glorious time it was to begin the day with the quiet and steadfastness of His Word to fill my mind and heart.

I might not be able to recreate the perfect stillness of a glasslike lake each morning but I can choose to allow God to be the first to enter the recesses of my heart each day.  Too often, I grab my phone first thing in the morning as I sip on my coffee but I am learning how even those few moments of glancing at texts, Instagram and email will cause my heart and mind to wander into “my plans” for the day and it is honestly almost impossible for me to once again to return to the stillness of allowing only God to fill my first moments and lead me into His perfect plans for me.  

Guest Contributor:

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Mary Fahnestock and her college sweetheart, Matt, have been married 27 years, have lived in WI, VA, TX, and they currently live in Ann Arbor, MI.  She is learning to embrace the “empty nest” years along with the travel which goes along with having her three grown children on both the east and west coasts. Mary enjoys spending time with her family, wherever and whenever they can gather, as well as reading, studying the Word, and spending time soaking in the beauty of God’s creation.

It’s Really All About Jesus Anyway, Isn’t It?

Have you read the Bible from beginning to end?  I am sorry to say that I have not, despite being a Christian my entire life.  (Nothing like starting off with a huge confession, right?)  I have read parts of the Old Testament and the entire New Testament, but I have not read the entire Bible.  It’s interesting now to reflect on why I haven’t.  

I remember the first time I tried to read the Bible from start to finish.  My parents had given me my first nice leather Bible for Christmas when I was in 4th or 5th grade.  This was way back before there were as many translation options as there are today, and my new Bible was the King James Version.  It probably won’t surprise you to know that I barely made it past Noah and the Ark!  

As an adult, I purchased the NIV translation of a “Read the Bible Through in a Year.”  I remember keeping up with it for a couple of months, but I found that reading several chapters of the Old Testament, then a couple chapters of Psalms and Proverbs, before skipping over to the New Testament each day was cumbersome.  Maybe it was something about me, but I found it difficult to pick up the next day where I had left off in 3 different places!  

Amid my attempts to read the Bible from start to finish, the majority of my group and individual Bible studies were more “topical” in nature and based on the New Testament.  Topical studies were more appealing, I think, because I could choose what I wanted God to speak to me about.  Although I enjoyed Psalms and Proverbs, I came to believe that there really wasn’t anything pertinent I was missing from the Old Testament.  It’s really all about Jesus anyway, right?  But, I’ve also recently learned that there’s a whole lot to learn from the OT and it IS relevant to today!  

Some time towards the end of last year, I felt the desire to begin with Genesis and read through the entire Bible- start to finish.  This time, I chose a modern translation (New Living) that takes the reader through the Bible chronologically, with no skipping around.  And there is a daily summary, as well as a practical application commentary, that has satisfied my need for the topical part of Bible study.  What I have learned is that the insights, encouragements, and lessons from reading the Old Testament are every bit as relevant and applicable to anything that I have learned from the New Testament! 

This is a big transitional year for our family.  My daughter, Emily, will enter middle school next year and for the last several years, my husband and I have been considering moving both of our girls out of public school to a private Christian school, where they can obtain a faith-based education.  To us, it makes sense that if we are going to move to a new school system, the time to do it would be when Emily is moving to a new school anyway. Along with this decision has been another to possibly to move from our current neighborhood to another.  We have had our eye on another neighborhood for years and now that the girls will be changing schools, it seems like a good time to decide whether we should move or not.  Now, I went into this idea of reading the Bible through without really thinking there would be anything God would say to me about these decisions in the Old Testament.  Turns out I was wrong.  

In Genesis 12:1-4, God calls Abram (Abraham) to pick up and leave his native country and to move his family.  Abram was obedient and did what God told him to do, but what’s most interesting about this passage is that Abram didn’t know where God was telling him to move!  Hebrews 11:8 says, “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land… He went without knowing where He was going.”  Abraham exhibited true faith and I felt like I was being encouraged to do the same: God was telling me that we just need to keep our eyes on Him and follow where He leads—even if that means staying where we are.  But wait, there’s more!  

God makes a promise to Abraham that his descendants will be many and also that he and Sarah, who were both really old at this point, would have a son of their own.  God repeats His promise many times, but time passes and nothing happens.  So, Sarah and Abraham get impatient and take matters into their own hands.  Abraham and Sarah’s servant, Hagar, conceive a son and this creates a situation that brings much heartbreak.  (Genesis 15-17)  God does eventually fulfill His promise to Abraham and Sarah, but the consequences of their impatience impacted them for years.  

Meanwhile, although there were a few “hiccups” with the private school application process, God continued to lead us forward.  However, the process of looking around at houses became overwhelming.  Initially we were considering just one neighborhood, but then one house/builder lead to another, and we started looking at several other neighborhoods.  With so many possibilities, it was hard to discern if God was leading us to any of them.   Many times along this journey, builders and agents would have loved some money and a signed contract, but so far, we haven’t felt God’s hand on any of the houses/neighborhoods we have seen (nice as they are!).  This passage about how Abraham and Sarah failed to wait upon God came at the exact time that I was feeling the most overwhelmed.  Abraham and Sarah took the control from God and the consequences of this lasted for years.  This passage served as a strong reminder for us to walk with God through this process, and not to run ahead.  

How amazing is it that God knows us and loves us so intimately that He speaks to us about exactly what we are dealing with in life and at the perfect time!  I will admit that I have not read my Bible according to plan every single day, so I’m a little behind.  In spite of this, God brought the right message at the perfect time.  It is it now May and I am still so encouraged!  Now, I will admit that Leviticus is a challenge (smile!), but I continue to believe God is using the Old Testament to speak into my everyday life.    

What about you?  Whatever part of the Bible you are studying, I pray you are hearing God speak to you, too.  And if you haven’t read the Bible all the way through, I hope you are encouraged to pick up whatever translation/plan inspires you, and get started— you don’t even have to wait until January! 

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Sherry Fischer grew up and still lives in Northern Virginia. She obtained her Bachelors Degree (James Madison University) and Masters Degree (Virginia Commonwealth University), both in Social Work. Sherry worked in a hospital setting as a Medical Social Worker/Case Manager for 20 years. Sherry married Karl when she was 38 and is now a full time stay at home mom to Emily (12) and Abby (9). When the girls were preschoolers, Sherry was an active participant and eventually served as a leader for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). Once both girls were in school full time, Sherry joined the Passion4Moms team, where she is currently the Director of Hospitality and enjoys writing periodic blogs. For fun, Sherry enjoys making cherished memories with family and friends at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.

A Mother's Christmas Gift

Christmas season is now under way and excitement is in the air. Homes begin to light up the night with all the beautiful decorations.  With tummies still full from turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, the shopping begins.  It is gift giving season and the search is on for the perfect gifts for those we love.  If you are like me, I enjoy thinking about and planning for the perfect gift for all on my list, especially my children.  What would excite them?  Surprise them?  Wow them?  What have they been keeping their eye on that would make their face light up when they unwrap it from under the tree?  Oh, it is so fun to give! 

Material gifts are fun to think about, shop for and give, but have you given any thought to what eternal gifts you might give your children this Christmas, gifts for the heart?  If we only spent as much time investing in eternal gifts as we do shopping for material gifts, our homes would be calmer and more meaningful at Christmas time.  Jesus tells us not to store up treasures on earth but in heaven, because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19,20)  One eternal gift is spending time with kiddos; baking cookies, retelling the story of Jesus' birth, sharing stories of your childhood Christmas memories, celebrating Advent together and other similar Christmas activities.  I think as moms we do tend to make time to give these special “gifts” to our kids at Christmas time, no matter how busy the season.  But could there be a gift that will give over and over, day after day this Christmas season that could impact them for eternity?

I'm glad you asked.  What about giving the gift to your children of a mom spending daily, intentional time with the Lord Jesus this entire Christmas season?  I believe that is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.  Amidst the hustle and bustle, the hanging of decorations and Christmas lights, the shopping and wrapping...give your kids devoted time of their mom sitting at the feet of Jesus.  This December, make it the top priority of each day to make time for Him.  It will change your stress level, your shopping, your heart, your own Christmas experience this year, and it will overflow into a gift for your children.  

One of my favorite things to do each December day is get up before anyone in the family is awake, go downstairs and in the dark, turn on only the lights of the Christmas tree.  While sipping coffee and my Bible in my lap, with just the twinkling of the Christmas lights, I spend time with my Savior.   It is such a sweet time.  I look forward to it all year long.  There is just something about staring at the lights of the tree and pondering the God of the universe who chose to come down from heaven Himself, in human flesh, to show us how much He loves us.  Morning after morning, this renews my focus.  This intentional and special time with Jesus fixes my eyes on Him, encourages me to lean in to Him, fills me with His Spirit and helps me keep this season about Jesus and not what the world has made it to be.  This time with Jesus overflows into the rest of my day and becomes a gift to my family.  My heart is full.  My focus is clear.  My joy is real.

My family gets to experience this gift of me spending time with Jesus because what He has taught me that morning often spills into my conversations with them that day.  Taking the time to study the Christmas story from different perspectives teaches us new things and then we want to share.  For example, two years ago a friend of mine gave me the Christmas devotional The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. It was a fresh way of reading and studying the lineage of Jesus through the Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree.  Walking through Old Testament passages and being reminded of truths each morning from scripture and Ann's devotional made me want to share these Christmas treasures with my kids.  Continuing to point our own hearts and our children's hearts to Jesus during the season of Christmas is a gift that truly is eternal.  It changes how we live each day.  Maybe you want to find a new way to spend time with Jesus in His word this December and allow God to fill your heart, so you can pour into your family the peace and light of Christ.  Psalm 119:130 reminds us "The unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple."

Time with Jesus is life giving.  A mom walking with the Lord daily is a mom filled with the Spirit and being led by the Spirit.  A mom spending time with Jesus is ready to give to her family.  Why not give this gift to your kids this Christmas season?  Oh, they may not be able to physically grab it out from under the tree and unwrap it on Christmas morning, but they will unknowingly experience the eternal gift you are giving them...a mom who has put Jesus at the top of her own Christmas list and gives of herself out of the overflow of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.

 

Leaving Your Nets and Your Boat: Finding True Peace and Rest

As I have studied the book of Matthew, I have walked alongside the disciples trying to get a glimpse into their hearts.  

I have learned that when Jesus asks me to follow Him I will have to leave my nets, leave my boat and possibly leave my family to follow Him.  Sometimes I may need to leave them immediately!  When Jesus called the disciples, they immediately left their nets and followed Him.  It was the “leaving their nets” that allowed them to walk alongside of Jesus daily, learn from Him and learn about Him.  Leaving their nets enabled them to develop a strong, deep and personal relationship with Jesus.  Doesn’t Jesus want this from each of us?  Sometimes those nets which we tend to want to cling to can distract us from Him.  These nets at one time may have started out as a really good thing however over time even good things can become a hindrance to our walk with Christ.  Is Jesus asking you to leave behind your nets and follow Him more closely? 

Earlier this year, I was asked to leave my nets, my boat, and my family and follow Jesus to a new place to call home.  Our family moved from Virginia to Texas in order for my husband to take a new job.  This always sounds exciting at first, a new adventure and chance to explore as a family a new part of the country.  But I really felt comfortable with my nets and I really enjoyed my boat.  I felt purpose in my ministries, I enjoyed being with my friends, and I loved being close to my family.  I liked living in Virginia and basically I was happy and feeling very content… 

But I kept hearing the word immediately spoken again and again to my heart. Really – now? Shouldn’t I finish up my commitments and join my husband in June?  Immediately, the Lord kept whispering in my heart.  Shouldn’t Matthew finish his school year so he can start in a new school in the fall?  Immediately!  So that is what we did – and things moved very quickly.  Needless to say, I was humbled and stood back in amazement at how the Lord removed obstacle upon obstacle to move us to Texas as tightly fastened doors kept flying open and we just kept walking through the thresholds of opened doors.  There was such blessing experienced in following immediately.  The ways in which we experienced the Lord working on our behalf early on in the move strengthened our faith in preparation for some days of doubt, which would lie ahead.  Trust His perfect plans for you, even when He speaks the word immediately to you.

There were days when I wanted to ask the disciples if they ever looked back, if they missed just being a fisherman or if they missed their friends and families?

Then I hear Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I have learned that sometimes Jesus asks us to leave our nets and follow Him and learn to depend upon Him and only Him.  It is in this dependence where the sweet blessing is found.  It is in the dependence, when we take His yoke upon us and learn from Jesus that we find true rest for our souls.  Isn’t that what we all are truly looking for? True rest which is found in Christ alone!