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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • What I Never Noticed About Jesus

    Lysa TerKeurst February 25, 2016

    What I Never Noticed About Jesus  LYSA TERKEURST

    “Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” Mark 6:51-52 (NIV)

    I ran my hand over the large rock and closed my eyes. What an incredible moment it was for me to stand where Jesus once stood in the Holy Land. I opened my Bible and let the full reality of all He was facing fall fresh on me.

    I wanted to read the Scriptures leading up to this moment where He sat on Mt. Arbel and prayed and watched the disciples, just before walking on water.

    But I cautioned myself to read the uncommon sentences. Too many times I highlight verses telling of Jesus’ miracles but skim right past those telling of deeply human realities.

    In Mark chapter 5, we see Jesus interacting with a woman desperate to be healed from her bleeding disorder. He frees her from her suffering and gives her peace. And we find Him healing the young daughter of a synagogue ruler.

    Miracle!

    But we also find in verse 40a, “But they laughed at him.”

    In Mark chapter 6 we see Jesus sending out the 12 disciples and as they preached, “They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them,” (v. 13.)

    Miracle!

    But we also find earlier in verse 3b, “… And they took offense at him.”

    We find Him having great compassion on the people who followed Him in the feeding of the 5,000. They all ate and were satisfied by five loaves and two fish.

    Miracle!

    But we also see that Jesus and His disciples were physically depleted, “because so many were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,” (v. 31a).

    Messy realities tucked in the midst of miracles.

    And isn’t it so like us to miss this about Jesus’ everyday life? We hyper-focus on the lines of Scripture containing the miracles so much that we miss the detail of the mess.

    Jesus had people laugh at Him and reject Him and misunderstand Him. We know this in theory, but as I sat on that rock that day I suddenly realized what an everyday reality this was for Him.

    Now, here’s what happens to me in my life: I get so focused on the mess, I miss the miracles.

    And that’s the very thing that happens to the disciples right after the feeding of the 5,000. They got in a boat and strong winds caused the water to get very rough. The disciples were straining at the oars as the realities of life beat against them.

    Jesus was on the mountainside praying. From Mt. Arbel, Jesus could see the middle of the lake where the disciples were. Mark 6:47-48a, “Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them” (NIV).

    Jesus saw them. He went down to them. And they missed the miracle in the midst of the mess.

    The same miracle worker that multiplied the fish and the loaves was now walking on the water near them and they thought He was a ghost. They were terrified and then were amazed, but they didn’t understand, for the Scriptures say, “their hearts were hardened,” (v. 52b).

    It seems to me Jesus has a pattern of performing miraculous acts in the setting of messes.

    This revelation led me to a gut-honest prayer, Oh Lord, let me see this. Please don’t let the messes of life harden my heart and blind me to Your presence. Instead of being so terrified in the midst of the mess, might I keep the picture of You, watching me, always watching me. And might I find courage in the assurance that You will come to me with Your miraculous presence. 

    Yes, I need to spend a whole lot less time trying to fix the messes in my life … and a whole lot more time keeping my heart soft in the process.

    Then I won’t miss the miraculous work of Jesus in the midst of my mess.

    Dear Lord, You are so good. Help me see Your hand working even in the midst of things that seem to be messes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

    John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:  Point your family to the reality of Jesus this Easter season by reading about Him in the The Jesus Storybook Bible! We also have several other life-changing resources that we’d love to share with you. Click here to find out more.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you in the middle of a difficult or frustrating season in your life right now? Ask God to open your eyes to see His miracles in the midst of your mess.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Sandpaper Spouses

    Karen Ehman February 24, 2016

    Sandpaper Spouses  KAREN EHMAN

    “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

    “This is NOT what I signed up for!” I cried out to God as I sat cross-legged on the bedroom floor of our first apartment, my eyes stinging with hot tears. Out in the living room sat my husband — bewildered, completely exasperated, unable to handle his wife’s volatile emotions.

    I was a brand new bride of just six weeks. Our thank-you notes for the wedding gifts hadn’t even been sent! But already I had buyer’s remorse. Or I guess more accurately, “bridal remorse.” All I knew was that this “Happily Ever After” thing was not-so-happy after all.

    The first few years of my marriage were rocky and rough. I had envisioned a relationship of marital bliss. Flowers. Candlelight dinners. Holding hands at the movies. Long strolls on the beach.

    Then the wall of reality hit. Instead of the candlelight dinner, it was burnt roast. When he once again came home late from work, I wrongly interpreted that as him caring little about my culinary efforts. We didn’t get to the hand-holding at the theater much because we couldn’t make up our minds about which show to see. And I strolled on the beach, all right — all alone — just after I stormed away from my husband following yet another argument.

    Although we possessed a mutual love for each other (really we did) our personalities and approach to life could not have been more different! In fact, we joke today that if we went on one of those online dating sites, instead of matching us up as perfect soul mates, the computer screen would blink a bright red message “DO NOT DATE! TOTALLY INCOMPATIBLE!”

    Often, my husband and I just plain rub each other the wrong way. Yep. We’re different. We are what I call “sandpaper spouses” and our rough-around-the-edges relationship often finds us turning to God when we feel like turning away from each other.

    When we encounter conflict, I am verbal and process my thoughts quickly, backing him into a corner. He prefers to pause and ponder before sorting his thoughts or sharing his feelings. This difference makes him view me as critical and combative. And I label him an avoider, accusing him of caring little about resolving conflict.

    When making decisions, he is methodical and thorough, carefully weighing all options. I prefer to decide in a snap and forge ahead to the next thing. This difference causes me to label him as indecisive and tempts him to brand me knee-jerk and impulsive.

    Having a spouse who faces life differently can often tempt us to attack each other. But what if instead we were to flip the situation, and see things that rub us the wrong way as blessings instead … that enable our spiritual growth?

    Today’s key verse states, “Iron sharpens iron.” If your kitchen knife is dull, you sharpen it by grinding it against a rough stone, not by rubbing it on cushy cotton. In the same way, the rough patches in our personalities can help sharpen us in the areas of love, compassion and patience — mostly patience!

    And I know from experience that my less-than-perfect marriage has grown my prayer life immensely as I take my concerns to God during times of tumult.

    My husband’s slower-paced decision making causes me to pause and pray before I forge ahead and consider other options I might not have thought of initially. My verbal processing encourages my husband to talk through issues rather than stuff his feelings inside, where they might fester and explode later. And our different philosophies teach us patience and perspective.

    Will you join me today in thanking God for sandpaper spouses? Rather than our differences driving us crazy, instead may they drive us all straight to our knees.

    Father, I want to see the differences in my marriage as opportunities for growth as I take my concerns — and my attitudes and responses — to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the LORD has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (ESV)

    Hebrews 13:4a, “Marriage should be honored by all …” (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: For a free printable entitled “10 Ways to Love Your Sandpaper Spouse” and a chance to win Karen Ehman’s book LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith, visit Karen’s blog.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: In what ways does dealing with personality differences in marriage help to smooth out your rough edges? List what it has done for you. (For example: developed patience, driven you to prayer, etc.)

    © 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Curious Faith by Logan Wolfram

    We're all born driven to explore, marvel, and experience the adventure of life. But as responsibilities pile up, we slowly exchange that unbridled curiosity for a sense of control and routine. Wolfram shows you how to rescue your now by exploring what is possible with a God who is unlimited, unpredictable, and ever-loving!

    Family Christian is very excited about Logan's new book.  We had the opportunity to catch up with Logan and get this little video to share with you.



    "Logan Wolfram would give you full access to her pantry if you lived next door. She is a plate-juggling mom and interior decorator turned writer, speaker, and host of the Allume Conference. She is a passionate leader who desires to see women live fully in Christ."

    We first heard of Logan as a blogger.  She had a great blog Curious Faith by Logan Wolframwhich eventually led to her starting a Christian blogging conference called Allume.  It has been a joy to watch her journey from blogger to speaker to author.  She has an authentic voice and when you meet her, it is like having coffee with your best friend.

    We are proud to be selling Curious Faith and excited to give you chance to win a copy!  We are giving away 2 copies of her book Curious Faith and 2 t-shirts!  Each winner will win 1 book and 1 shirt (randomly selected size).

    Enter below for your chance to win.

  • God's Power In Me

    Micca Campbell February 23, 2016

    God's Power In Me MICCA CAMPBELL

    “And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” Ephesians 1:19 (KJV)

    Each May we look forward to the annual Campbell family kickball game. Lines are drawn and bases placed before the teams are chosen. While I’m always the last one picked, I still give it my all.

    One time I kicked the ball to the third basemen, and took off for first base. In my mind’s eye, I was a blur. As the third baseman swept up the ball and hurled to first, someone called out, “Slide!” So I did.

    Stretching my arms toward the base, I slid through the dirt head-first, certain I had made it. But when the dust cleared, reality settled in. I was nowhere near the base.

    Looking up, I saw my niece standing on the base giggling as she tossed the ball up and down in her hand. There I lay halfway between home plate and first base. Everyone laughed. All in fun, of course, but it still hurt my feelings. I did the best I could.

    Back at the dugout, my sweet husband pulled me into his sweaty chest, wrapped his arms around me and squeezed me tight.

    “Hey. What if I kick the ball for you next time? Then you would be sure to make it to first base. Maybe second.” He proposed the idea with a big grin across his face. Knowing he was stronger, I accepted.

    Next time I was up, Pat got ready to kick while I positioned myself to run. As soon as I heard the plunk of the ball, I took off for first, then second, then third base! Just when I thought I couldn’t run anymore, the cheers of my team beckoned me on. “Don’t stop! Keep going!” As I crossed home plate, everyone applauded.

    Amazed and breathless, I questioned, “What happened?”

    “Dad kicked the ball over the tree line,” my daughter explained. “It was an automatic home run,” she added. Now it made sense.

    If it weren’t for Pat’s powerful kick that day, I would have never tasted the sweetness of victory.

    In a similar way, God provides the power we lack to succeed at life.

    We hear about God’s power and greatness to help us when we lose our job, when our health falters, when we go through a painful divorce or when our dreams are smashed. Yet, the main question we can ask ourselves is, “How do I rely on His power?” 

    The answer lies within today’s verse: “And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:19).

    According to Paul, we rely on God’s power to work in us by faith. As Christ-followers, our hope is greater than we know because Christ resides in us. That means you and I have Divine greatness in us. Those who believe in Him experience the wonder of His power.

    No matter how ill-equipped we are, we have the assurance that in our situation God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

    God isn’t limited by what we ask. He can go beyond that. In fact, He does exceedingly greater than what we ask or dream. However, the key is in believing that He can.

    So, instead of doubting what I think God can’t or won’t do, I’ve started believing in what He can do! It’s made a great difference in my life.

    Through His might, I’m able to stop yelling at my kids. I can love that person who rubs me the wrong way. I can patiently wait in traffic if I choose to believe and rely on God’s mighty power in me. Otherwise, I fail miserably. Maybe you can relate.

    Relying on God to do great things through me isn’t any different than relying on my husband Pat’s kick. Because Pat was strong enough to send the ball soaring, I was able to do the impossible — score a home run.

    With God, we can do more than we could ever hope for.

    So, what is it that you need? Ask Him in faith and God will supply the power.

    Dear God, I believe in Your mighty power at work in me. Help my unbelief. In Jesus Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (NIV)

    Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’re looking to find freedom from fears in your life and unleash God’s power, you’ll appreciate An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell.

    Stop by Micca’s blog today to connect with her for more encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Identify an area in your life where you need the power of God. Share any doubts you have (God already knows them anyway). Believe He can do immeasurably more. Rely on His power.

    © 2016 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Do I Pursue Goals More Than God?

    Glynnis Whitwer February 22, 2016

    Do I Pursue Goals More Than God? GLYNNIS WHITWER

    “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

    Today I have a confession, one that is hard to admit. Many times I want the satisfaction of completing a goal more than I want to experience God.

    This is a battle every morning, knowing my to-do list beckons, tasks await, people expect, emails ding.

    All the while my Bible sits on the table with a silent invitation. It’s not demanding, simply a peaceful promise. Sadly, it’s easy to pass by as I move on to things I “need” to do.

    I’m wired like Martha — maybe you know her from the Bible? She was concerned about her to-do list too.

    Luke chapter 10 records a day when Martha was the hostess and Jesus was the guest. It’s a short story, but we know Martha fussed at Jesus because her sister wasn’t working hard enough. Rather than helping Martha fix the food, Mary was sitting listening to Jesus.

    Jesus loved both Mary and Martha. But in that moment, as the story records, Jesus was more delighted with Mary’s heart to be with Him than in Martha’s heart to serve Him.

    I can be a fusser too. Too busy with the details, too worried about planning for what’s next, too preoccupied with my to-do list. Sometimes I even worry about other people’s to-do lists.

    Yet, I want a heart that pursues God more than goals. I want to long to spend time in Jesus’ presence more than I long to spend time on my computer or phone.

    It’s not that I don’t love Jesus. I do. I’ve devoted my life to serving Him. I’m aware of His presence and talk to Him throughout the day.

    But so did Martha. She loved Jesus. And I’m sure she loved having Him as a houseguest, where she could hear Him talk as she went about her daily tasks. Maybe she asked Him questions and served Him lunch. Touched His shoulder as she walked by and picked up His plate.

    But she didn’t stop to sit at His feet. She didn’t pause her preparations to give Him wholehearted attention.

    Jesus so gently and lovingly corrected Martha and gave her advice on the right way to go about her work:

    “Martha, Martha,’ the LORD answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)

    Jesus loved Martha’s heart of service, but He wanted her wholehearted devotion first.

    This was a message Jesus consistently taught in His ministry. Get your heart right first; that’s the most important place to start.

    In fact, our key verse is from Jesus’ teaching recorded in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

    I wonder if Martha changed her habits. Did she check her heart and consider where Jesus fit? Did she review her priorities and put Jesus before cleaning up?

    We don’t know the answer. The only thing we can know is what we decide to do with this story.

    It’s so compelling to jump into our days — whether it’s carpooling children or leading a meeting at work — without ever pausing to sit at Jesus’ feet. It’s so much easier to whisper a prayer while driving or listen to the Christian radio station and consider that time with God.

    And we can be sure that God loves to hear our prayers and songs of worship. But Martha’s story challenges me to do a heart check. Why haven’t I carved out time every day to just enjoy the presence of the Lord?

    It’s a challenging question, and one I’m determined to answer. But more than that, I’m committed to putting God before my goals in a very practical way … to stop being worried about my “many things” and choose what is “better.”

    Heavenly Father, thank You for welcoming me into Your presence no matter how I approach You. You never shame me for my selfish choices, only love me. Help me re-order my heart and my schedule to put You before any task or goal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (NIV)

    Luke 10:41-42, “But the LORD said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you feel overwhelmed and need help managing your schedule, Glynnis Whitwer’s book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, offers spiritual truth and practical tips.

    Goals aren’t a bad thing; we just need to have our hearts right with the Lord before pursing them. So if you sense God has called you to write or speak, we’d love to help you gain a fresh vision and get the tools you need at our annual She Speaks Conference this summer, where we offer professional training grounded in having a right heart before God.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take a look at your calendar this week. When can you schedule 15 minutes to sit at Jesus' feet? Write it in and consider it an appointment you can't break.

    © 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Introducing Widow Connection

    In 2006, Miriam Neff became a widow after her husband, Bob, lost his battle to ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Shortly thereafter, she sought out resources that could provide her with advice for dealing with grief and her new financial situation. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find a comprehensive book for widows with a spiritual perspective.

    On the seven-month anniversary of Bob’s death, she was in Burkina Faso, Africa teaching a group of widows who were hungry to hear the Word. That evening in her hotel room, she knew God was calling her to serve widows and their children.

    That was when Widow Connection was born.

    Today, Miriam is educating and encouraging widows all over the world through her:

    Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Miriam, her daughter and even one of the widows she has connected with and helped.

    We had a wonderful time getting to know her and her story. She is extremely passionate about serving widows in need. One such case was that of Lori Fox-Ritter, a widow who connected with Miriam after reading her book. After reading the first few pages, Lori learned that Miriam’s husband also passed away from ALS—and four years to the day earlier than her husband, Eric.

    Next month, we’ll dive deeper into the past, present and future of Widow Connection, as well as share the rest of Lori’s story with you.

    Stay tuned!

  • A Place to Begin When You Don’t Know Where to Begin

    Liz Curtis Higgs FEBRUARY 19, 2016

    A Place to Begin When You Don’t Know Where to Begin LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1 (NIV)

    A cold February night many winters ago. Snow was falling thick and fast, blowing across my windshield. Not far ahead I saw the glowing lights of a bookstore.

    Liz, you drove through a snowstorm to buy a book? I did. But it wasn’t just any book.

    Minutes earlier, seated in a toasty warm office, I’d confessed my sins (well, most of them) to the pastor of the church I’d started attending. I told him enough to get my point across, to convince him I was a "Bad Girl."

    The pastor gently said, "So, you lived a worldly life."

    I was confused. "No, I did all that stuff in America."

    He smiled. Then he prayed and encouraged me to read the book of John.

    I bolted out of his office, intent on buying a Bible right then and there, snow or no snow. The bookstore was deserted. The cashier was freaked out about the weather. But I found what I was looking for: the biggest, thickest study Bible in stock.

    Safely back home, I opened my new Bible and read today’s key verse: "In the beginning was the Word …" (John 1:1a, NIV). Um … did this mean back when God created the earth? No, even before that. "Before the world began, the Word was there" (John 1:1a, ERV).

    So, God wasn’t talking about a printed book filled with words. He was talking about His Son.

    I kept reading. "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1b, NIV). Father and Son, together with the Holy Spirit, bound throughout eternity. Three in one, like water in three forms: liquid, vapor and ice.

    I couldn’t believe so much mind-boggling truth was packed into a single verse. Is the whole Bible like this? I wondered.

    Sitting there in my drafty old apartment, where central heat was little more than a rumor, I let the truth of John 1:1 sink in, warmed by the words and what they revealed about this God I was only beginning to understand.

    Then I read the next verse. And the next. I inhaled the book of John, then the Psalms, then the letters of Paul. I couldn’t get enough, didn’t want to stop.

    As the months went by, I feared my enthusiasm for the Bible might wear thin. That once I’d read each page, the words wouldn’t be as exciting the second time, let alone the tenth time.

    Seriously, Liz? Nothing could be further from the truth! Every time I read a familiar verse, God reveals a richer, deeper meaning. And when I find a new-to-me passage? Pure joy.

    Beloved, is that how reading the Bible is for you? An ongoing journey of discovery, an endless adventure? Or has it become a duty, a task, something to be checked off on your daily to-do list?

    Maybe it’s time to change that.

    All over the world, Bibles are waiting to be opened. On shelves and under beds, on top of coffee tables and inside dresser drawers. Waiting, waiting. In your house. In my house. In lots of people’s houses.

    When we finally dive into God’s Word, a light comes on. Things inside us fall into place. Our hearts begin to heal from years of brokenness. We have a new reason to get out of bed in the morning. We’re drawn to a place of worship where we can serve and to a body of people we can love.

    One book can do all that? It can. It will. Just begin. Go slowly. One verse a day, maybe two. Break each verse into phrases, then into individual words. What is God saying? What does it mean? How could you apply it to your life right now, this very day?

    Heavenly Father, help me keep my Bible close at hand and foremost in my thoughts. Prompt me to reach for Your timeless Word every day and open it with joyful anticipation of what You will show me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 130:5, "I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope." (NIV)

    Deuteronomy 30:14, "… the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it." (NIV)

    1 John 2:5a, "… if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Liz Curtis Higgs’ latest Bible study, It’s Good to Be Queen, explores the queen of Sheba’s journey to Jerusalem in search of something rare and precious: wisdom.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Most of us really want to spend more time in God’s Word. Is finding a moment to yourself your greatest challenge? Choosing a Bible translation? Figuring out where to begin? Suppose you started with just five minutes, get the First 5 app or use a Bible you already own and opened it to the book of John. What might happen?

    © 2016 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Why Should I Be Excited About Leviticus?

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 18, 2016

    Why Should I Be Excited About Leviticus? LYSA TERKEURST

    "If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD." Leviticus 1:3 (NIV)

    Can I admit something to you about the book of Leviticus? I’ve never really been excited about studying it. I honor it as truth. I value it as part of the history for the children of Israel. But I always kind of skipped over that book when it came to choosing a book from God’s Word to personally study.

    So when our ministry decided to study Leviticus for our First 5 app, I was skeptical. I got into the first chapter’s instructions about animal sacrifices and thought, How does this relate to my life?

    But as I kept reading, I felt challenged to ask a different question.

    It’s a question that gives me a much deeper appreciation for the teachings of Leviticus and my desperate need to read this book. And I want to share it with you — because I’m thinking I’m not the only woman who needs a fresh set of eyes when it comes to this book of the Bible.

    The question is this: "What attitude shift is God asking His people to make here?"

    The specific activities being described in chapter 1 of Leviticus may not apply to me, but the heart attitude about bringing an offering to God certainly does.

    So, let’s read our key verse, Leviticus 1:3, and think more about the attitude shift than the activity itself: "If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD."

    There are three things that stand out to me from this verse regarding my attitude:

    1. I am to return to God a portion of what He’s given me. He isn’t asking for the "whole herd," although He certainly could. But He does ask me to acknowledge Him with the provision I’ve been given. My attitude needs to be, "God, I acknowledge that what I have is a good gift from You. Therefore, I will gladly return the correct portion back to You with a grateful heart. I am compelled to do this not because of a rule but because this is a way to keep my heart in tune with Your best plan for me."

    2. I should offer God my very best. God required them to bring a male without defect to Him. My attitude should be, "God, I don’t want to offer You something that costs me nothing. I want to intentionally set aside my very best offering for You. But I also want to apply this to other areas of my life as well. I want to offer You a portion of my day when my mind is the most sharp, so my best thoughts go to You. I want to offer You a portion of my best strength, so I can help someone in Your name today. And I want to offer my very best at my job today, so I truly bring You glory in my workplace."

    3. I need to present my offering at the entrance. In other words, the attitude behind this action is, "I need to make giving to God the first thing I do, not the last thing I consider." When I get my paycheck, the first check written should be to the Lord. When I wake up to a new day, the first minutes and my first thoughts go to God. If I want God to be first in my life, I need to acknowledge Him with my firsts.

    What rich truths.

    Truths that redirect me and remind me to approach Leviticus with expectation instead of hesitation. Truths that encourage me to keep looking for the attitudes God was addressing in the midst of the actions He was requiring.

    Yes. I think this is going to an incredible adventure toward experiencing God.

    Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that my attitude matters. I want to bring You my very best each and every day. Help me to keep You first in all of my life. And continue teaching me and shaping me through Your marvelous Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

    Psalm 119:18, "Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law." (AMP)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Instead of feeling intimidated by Leviticus, we can actively look for heart-redirecting, attitude-shifting truths together! Join us as we journey through Leviticus and Hebrews on the First 5 app. Download First 5 today for free.

    Don’t miss out on learning how Leviticus and Hebrews are closely intertwined! Get ready for the study by purchasing your Leviticus/Hebrews Experience Guide today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you ever find the Bible intimidating? Pause and pray Psalm 119:18 before you read today, believing God wants to speak to you through His Word.

    Are there any areas in your life where you need to start giving God your first or your best?

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Lessons from a Yellow Slip ’N Slide

    T. Suzanne Eller FEBRUARY 17, 2016

    Lessons from a Yellow Slip ’N Slide SUZIE ELLER

    "The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more." Psalm 103:15-16 (NIV)

    My 2-year-old daughter had drunk enough water from the hose that her little belly looked like a watermelon. Her twin brother wore only a bloated diaper. My eldest, 3 years old, struggled to keep her bathing suit on.

    The liquid dish soap I added to the water made the Slip ’N Slide like a rocket. Their little bodies flew as they squealed in delight. I was having a blast until the car drove up. Three church ladies wearing dresses stepped out of the car. I recognized them from the new church we’d visited the week before.

    I immediately wished I could whisk a wand so we’d all be invisible. What would they think of my mostly naked child with her watermelon belly? Or my son with his 5-pound diaper? What did I look like with my hair half-dry, the other half wet and sticky from the soap solution?

    The women walked to the fence and greeted me. "Can we come in?" one asked.

    That’s when real panic set in. Until that moment our day had been almost perfect, but my home? It was far from perfect! Laundry was piled in a basket on the kitchen table. Toys cluttered the living room. As a mom of three toddlers, I worked hard but cleaning my small house was like mowing the grass only to come out five minutes later and discover it had grown eight inches.

    When the women stepped inside, I saw it through their eyes and I began to wrestle with comparison.

    Surely, I thought to myself, other moms with three children under age 4 were able to keep a spotless home, fold their laundry as it came out of the dryer and organize toys so you didn’t step on them.

    Surely there were other moms who had a roast — no, strike that because maybe red meat isn’t the healthiest option — a chicken and fresh vegetables roasting for dinner.

    Surely there were other moms with stretch marks who weren’t wearing a swimsuit in the backyard where God and everybody could see.

    Sadly, I allowed those thoughts to overshadow the beauty of that day.

    Looking back, I wish I hadn’t.

    My children are grown now and I’m "Gaga" to six beautiful grandbabies under the age of 5. Today, when my children flock to my house with their kids, car seats, fruit snacks and diaper bags, I want them to know something important.

    Sometimes, we act as if we have forever and we put too much emphasis on what others think. Or we get so tangled up in our to-do lists that we forget to enjoy the moment with those we love the most.

    Sure, we have tasks to do and they are important, but no more valuable than the sweet pockets of play and silliness. As my grown children gather around the table, they don’t talk about how spotless my kitchen once was (or wasn’t), or how I managed to have it all together. Instead, they laugh as they remember how the dish soap made the Slip ’N Slide so fast, or how mama took an afternoon off from laundry to enjoy the noon sunshine.

    Those flashes of time have become precious markers of their childhood that settled as memories. As our key verse reminds us, "The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more" (Psalm 103:15-16).

    I know we’re busy, yet today is a good day to laugh with a child. It’s a perfect day to stop comparing ourselves to others. It’s a good time to put down the to-dos for a few minutes and enjoy the moment.

    Heavenly Father, I get trapped in busy work that seems so important, and sometimes I forget to just laugh. Slow me down for a few moments today, Lord. Whisper in my heart about the importance of making sweet memories with those I love the most. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ecclesiastes 3:1,4, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Sometimes enjoying the moment means embracing our God-given talents and abilities before time gets away. If you want to connect with authors like Suzie Eller, our Proverbs 31 Speaker and Writer teams and others in the writing and speaking community, join us for She Speaks 2016, held July 21-23, in Concord, N.C.

    If your childhood was painful and you struggle in any way with knowing how to be a mom, Suzie Eller’s book, The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future, offers practical help, healing and encouragement.

    Join Suzie on her blog for a giveaway of The Mom I Want to Be.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Sometimes we feel pressure simply because it’s a busy season, but many times we put the pressure on ourselves.

    Give yourself permission to slow down and enjoy the moment. Remind yourself that the memories you make are just as valuable as the tasks you perform.

    © 2016 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Hillsong UNITED Brings EMPIRES Tour To The United States

    Nashville, Tenn. (February 3, 2016) – After recent stops in India, Singapore and Indonesia, Billboard Music Award winners Hillsong UNITED will bring their highly acclaimed EMPIRES tour to the United States, featuring special guests Rend Collective. In their first touring return to North America since 2013, EMPIRES tour will kick off February 11 in Sunrise, Fla. and end with two dates in Honolulu, Hawaii. Due to sold-out shows, additional dates have already been added to the band's U.S. trek. 

    The Australian-based Hillsong UNITED has a long history of sold-out shows in the United States, including notable venues such as the famed Hollywood Bowl (Los Angeles), Staples Center (Los Angeles), Red Rocks (Denver), ShoWare Center (Seattle), Gwinnett Center (Atlanta) and BankUnited Center (Miami). Hillsong UNITED holds the record for largest attendance ever in the Sears Centre Arena (Chicago, IL), outdrawing concerts there by such legendary performers as Billy Joel, Elton John and the Eagles. Since 2006, Hillsong UNITED has toured six continents and 42 nations. 

    “We haven’t really done our own thing in the USA since WelcomeZion 2013, so we are super excited to be bringing the EMPIRES tour to the states,” shares Joel Houston of Hillsong UNITED.  “We write songs to be sung with people – they are always for the people – so when we get to sing these songs with people on the road, it is the purpose of why we do what we do! We can’t wait to worship with people singing all the new EMPIRES songs as well as everyone’s favorites.”

    “Say The Word," the latest single from Hillsong UNITED's EMPIRES is currently impacting radio. The track picked up 30 adds in only two weeks. EMPIRES strongly debuted in Spring 2015 at No. 1 on Billboard's Christian Albums Chart and No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200. The album was met with appearances on The Today Show and Yahoo! along with critical acclaim from the likes of USA Today and The New York Times which remarked their talent as “a musical powerhouse.” 

    Hillsong United Tour 2016

    For more information on the EMPIRES tour, visit hillsong.com/united/#tours.

    EMPIRES 2016 Tour
    February 11 – BB&T Center – Sunrise, FL
    February 12 – CFE Arena (University of Central Florida) – Orlando, FL
    February 13/14 – USF Sun Dome – Tampa, FL
    February 15 - Smoothie King Center - New Orleans, LA
    February 16 – FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN
    February 18 – Cedar Park Center – Austin, TX
    February 19 – American Airlines Center – Dallas, TX
    February 20 – United Supermarkets Arena (Texas Tech University) – Lubbock, TX
    February 22 – Gila River Arena – Phoenix, AZ
    February 23 – Citizens Business Bank Arena – Ontario, CA
    February 26/27 – Neal Blaisdell Arena – Honolulu, HI

    About UNITED: UNITED is a worship band that originally rose out of the youth ministry of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. This progressive worship band is a global recording and touring entity sent out to share the ever-evolving worship music of Hillsong Church to an international audience through live performances and records. UNITED desires to see a generation across the earth awakened to real love, rising up with hearts as one and finding value in the broken, hurting and lost connecting with Jesus.

    The Billboard Music Award winner’s newest record EMPIRES debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 to critical support from The New York Times, The Today Show, USA Today and Yahoo! Most recently, Hillsong UNITED was named the Top Christian Artist of 2015 by Billboard Magazine. Selling out venues across multiple continents, Hillsong UNITED have filled major U.S. venues including Staples Center (Los Angeles), Radio City Music Hall (New York City), Red Rocks Amphitheater (Denver) and more. It is estimated that over 30 million people sing their songs each week, among those, their platinum selling single “Oceans."

    About Hillsong Church: In August 1983, Brian and Bobbie Houston founded the Hills Christian Life Centre in the Hills District of Sydney, Australia. It has grown from a congregation of 45 to what is said to be the largest local church in Australian history. It has now expanded to be a global church with local expressions in significant cities; with churches in Australia, London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Cape Town, Stockholm, Germany, Kiev, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Each week, tens of thousands of people across the globe call Hillsong Church ‘home’ and the reach, impact and influence of this local congregation is seen across many nations.

    Order your own copy of  Open Heaven/River Wild today.

    Open Heaven/River Wild

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