By now many have seen the movie I Can Only Imagine. Unfortunately, even with the best-laid plans, I have not. That did not stop my husband and me from enjoying the I Can Only Imagine Small Group Curriculum though.
For this review, I was supplied with the 28 Day Study Journal, in which, through studying the life of Jesus, a week is spent on each of the topics Rejection/Approval, Guilt/Forgiveness, Brokeness/Redemption, and Death/Eternal Life. Also included was a leather journaling notebook and a DVD containing a series of 4 episodes, one for each week in the study, to be watched as a group.
The 28 Day Study Journal was well laid out and didn’t leave you feeling lost or as if you missed something. Including scripture, quotes, questions, and even hymn lyrics, it assists you in digging into the hidden places of your heart to allow God to heal your brokenness and move forward.
The DVD was exceptional and really got us talking about how we related the topics to our own lives. Bart Millard shares raw emotions about his life story and how, with God, his life, the life of his father, and their relationship was redeemed.
As for the journaling notebook, much like the other products, there was nothing left wanting. While blank, the pages were well laid out with pages for various types of journaling and the cover very sturdy.
Let’s face it, in this day and age (well, any day and age) there is no one that has not experienced hurt. These products by City On A Hill make a great tool for discovering your identity in Christ while becoming whole in Him. Taking it a step further, and doing that as a group, really helps as you know that you are not alone in having gone through these emotions.
If you are considering purchasing the I Can Only Imagine Series and/or Journal from City On A Hill, you can save 10% using the code frontgate10 at this link: https://cityonahillstudio.com/shop-3/i-can-only-imagine/
Want to enter for a chance to win a copy for yourself? Enter at the following link before 5/25/18: https://www.blessedfreebies.com/indescribablestudygiveaway.html
Have you seen the movie or tried the Bible Study series? I’d love to know what you thought of them!
Even though it may feel like you have multiple enemies in your life, there is really only ONE!
Sometimes during the day, we need little reminders of God’s love and faithfulness to keep us going.
Prone To Wander LA is a company that is focused on helping you do just that. Each product displays a scripture, Biblical promise, hymn lyric, Godly greeting, or something similar.
A few weeks ago I received a beautiful banner and pillow cover in the mail. First of all, I have to say how amazing these items smelled when they arrived. I kept holding the packaging and items to my nose because they seriously smelled SO good! Sometimes, when you order something online, it arrives smelling unpleasant so this was nice. 😉 Second, I was amazed by the quality! Being someone that sews, unintentionally, I look at things like seams, creases, and zippers. These products are not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye but are constructed to last with durability. The fabric is top notch and the seams are strong.
But most of all… It has been wonderful to see this banner as I walk through my home or on my way out the door and find myself humming or singing “Be Still My Soul” as I go about my life. I have had a rough couple of weeks and to remember the Lord is on my side has meant so much to me. The pillow rests on my couch and when my kids are being silly with a mess on the floor I remember that even amongst the toys, my nest is abundantly blessed. It’s the little things sometimes, more than the big things, that bring the most reassurance of His love for us when we need them.
If you are like me and enjoy little reminders of God’s love and faithfulness throughout the day, but also prefer that these items be of higher quality, I HIGHLY recommend making a purchase from Prone To Wander LA.
Also, there is a giveaway! Prone To Wander LA also offers phone cases and are giving away a set. Enter now for a chance to win! Fill out the form below or go to this link to enter.
In my previous post, In The Midst Of A Cloud, I mentioned the worry of becoming distracted and being drawn out of a continuous presence with God and the joy that only comes from Him.
What if an animal suddenly appeared in the fog and surprised me?
Well, sadly, in life it is inevitable. There will always be “animals” that come looking for food, water, or shelter. What makes the difference, however, is how we handle them.
In 2003, my two older children (who were both still babies at the time) and I moved with their father to Mesa, Arizona so that he could attend law school. I remember that on certain Saturday nights, the local news would put out a special about Arizona wildlife and how to live amongst the animals. The Phoenix metro area was quickly growing, people from all over the world were moving there, and new construction was being put up constantly. We humans had invaded the territory that they knew as their home and they were confused, and some were even angry. There were tips on what to do if a predator was in your yard, how to back away from a rattlesnake, who to call should you find a Gila monster, snake, coyote, or other wild animals on your property, and more. They included tales of forewarning with past examples, including one of a child that had been carried off by coyotes because the family kept feeding the coyotes and one day it showed up to find they had forgotten to put food out. Their biggest point that was made over and over: DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS!!!
I knew this from living in the country in Kentucky, and from stray cats in the suburbs of Southern California. Unless you want an animal to stick around, never offer it food or water. It becomes dependent on you and will refuse to leave, eventually annoying you and possibly cause grief in retaliation for its anger.
So how should we handle the “animals” and distractions in a spiritual sense? The same way, don’t feed the animals.
Stress, negative thinking, sin, drama, gossip, worry, anxiety… the list goes on. It will always be there. It is inevitable that we encounter some of these things occasionally if not on a daily basis. But do we feed it? Are you offering them water without even realizing it? Maybe they are just silently sitting in the corner enjoying the shelter. The Bible gives a clear instruction on how to avoid feeding these things with our thoughts and time:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. -Philippians 4:8
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. -2 Corinthians 10:3-6
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. -2 Timothy 2:4
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. -1 Corinthians 10:31
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:21
And many, many, more…
If my thoughts and actions steer clear of the animals, when they appear I will be able to handle them in a way that my Father God approves of, especially if I am making the effort to stay in His continuous presence. HE MUST COME FIRST! However, if I take my eyes off of God and put them on the problem before me, I am leaving His presence to feed the animals. My mind quickly becomes overwhelmed and tired, unable to make sense of what is going on and missing the presence of my Savior.
It is not an easy effort to keep our flesh from luring us away from where our spirit wants to be. It has to be a constant conscious decision to stay in His lap and ask God how I should handle the animals. It requires studying the Word of God and applying scripture to each and every situation. Not feeding the animals means that sometimes, though I could possibly fix a situation, I can’t. I have to stand back and remove my hands from the project so that He can move or so that I am not dragged into a place where the cloud (see the previous post mentioned at the beginning of this post) can’t move to. While sometimes God will have me help a situation with something He has willed me to do, I have to pray and use discernment to know whether I am working in a safe garden or if there is a critter there waiting to bite me. From time to time, I have to refrain from conversations that would lead to feeding animals, possibly hurting the feelings of someone that does not understand. No, it is not easy, but it is SO worth it and over time it becomes more and more a second nature.
One key thing to remember, and though this is not the context that these scriptures intended, it makes a point:
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
What do we learn from this? Read it a few times and see if you catch this as well:
I have one last point I want to make with this, and it is the biggest.
In fact, it is more our thoughts than anything, I believe. Think on these things Philippians 4:8, remember? Maybe we didn’t physically react to an animal. We ignored it and walked right into the house and it went on its way. But when you got in the house, did you sit at the window and wonder what happened to it? Did you lay awake and worry that it was going through your trash? Did you worry that it was a skunk and was going to spray and you’d have to smell it all night?
We have to take captive our thoughts, ladies! The moment an animal appears, we need to turn from it or rebuke it, depending on the situation, and then pray every time it comes to mind. We have to make a conscious decision to not dwell on the animal but to pray about it and move on. That’s it, it’s done. No calling a friend and talking about it more than to ask for prayer to the point that another animal, gossip, has been birthed. No allowing your thoughts to run wild until you forget you left the gate open and anxiety wanders in. Keep the gates closed, don’t feed the animals, and stay in His presence. It’s not easy, it’s not always pleasant, but it is necessary to keep the animals away.
I touched on this before, but I want to repeat it again: Always remember when it comes to the animals, Ephesians 6:12.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
In any situation, don’t start to feed and run with the animals. Wage not, meaning don’t gossip, argue, or act nasty. Don’t fret with anxiety. Your battle is not with another person. Our battle is with the enemy of our souls. Jesus already won that battle! So wage not, but intercede! Intercede in prayer for the situation and leave it at the foot of the cross.
Have you ever been enveloped by a cloud? Watched it move in towards you and then suddenly be completely surrounded? It’s an eerie experience. Exciting, a tiny bit frightful, and often times very relaxing.
In the Bible, we read a lot about God appearing as a cloud. Even in the New Testament, but especially in the Old Testament to Moses and the children of Israel. One part of scripture that I would like to focus on is Exodus 24:15-18:
15 Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain.16 Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
17 The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.
18 So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Several months ago I went to pick up my son from school. It is right on the ridge of the mountain and often times it will be bright and sunny at our home only a few minutes away, but his school will be, literally, in a cloud. As I sat in the parking lot waiting for the bell to ring and the kids to be released I watched as the clouds approached the mountain. It was bright and sunny, and here came these clouds just bustling right up. Within about a minute, it was dense and the windows were wet. The wind picked up and I could see the fog blowing where the wind willed it. Before long I couldn’t see much of anything and all I could think of was Moses. Was this what it was like in the presence of The Almighty?
A few days later, it was a slightly different story. The fog was covering most of the mountain this day but was still much thicker at the school. In fact, I couldn’t even see the lights on the tops of the school buses that I had noticed as I pulled in behind them into the parking lot. I carefully found a parking space and realized that I could not even see a car that I had just passed a few spaces down. It took a moment to get a grip on my surroundings and not panic about not being able to see! I’m not usually very claustrophobic, but it hits me once in a while and this was one of those times… especially when it dawned on me that I was in a crowded parking lot with the edge of a cliff on the other side of the highway and most of these cars were going to have teenage drivers in them in a matter of minutes! However, I thought again of the presence of the Father and felt such a peace. I began to cry and ask God, “Can we just do this all the time? Like, even when there isn’t a dense fog? Can I just feel your tangible presence like this wherever I go no matter the circumstances? Because I know You’re there, and I know that You are able. I just want to sense You more than I already do! What I have is not enough, I need more of You!”
As I sat in my truck that day, I noticed a few things about being enveloped in the midst of a cloud…
When I am in the presence of my Father, I am protected. Satan and his minions may wish to harm me, but the closer I am to my Savior, the easier the blow… if it even comes close.
As the Lord moves in, I sense His presence in many ways, spiritually and physically. The air may seem different, and I may get “God bumps” or feel a sudden rush of adrenaline. My emotions change and I can feel His love all around me, much like jumping into a swimming pool and being surrounded by water… which I know, is pretty much what being in a cloud is… bear with me, I’m blonde and making points can get a little tricky. 😉
When I am alone in God’s presence and shut out the world, nothing but Him matters. The state of the nation and the drama going on over to that side while the chaos on the other is out of my mind (unless those are things I am praying for in that exact moment) and it is just the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and myself. Even in corporate worship settings, this occurs. I’m sure it is the same for you, and I’m hoping this is not coming across as boastful but to make a point…
…And the point is that I wanted all of those things all of the time. Not just when I was able to stop and clear my head. I wanted it ALL of the time so intensely that should something come up and upset me, my focus was still on Him and my countenance left unaffected. I wanted my emotions to be so even with what God wills for them to be that while a circumstance may shift them slightly to the left or right, that they were quickly centered on Him. Like when you are riding a bike and almost fall but quickly line the wheels back up and have that moment of relief and think, “whew, okay, I’m alright.” Just like that.
Then it popped into my head… old cartoons where the characters would be flying or fall off a cliff and keep going, but there were pieces of cloud with them… Jesus is always with me! I mean, duh, He’s in my heart, but keep hanging with me for a second. If my mind and focus stay on Him and Him alone and I don’t let something else take my attention… Much like DRIVING in a cloud of deep fog, (oh boy…) keeping my eyes only on the lines that guide the highway and not straight ahead, not becoming distracted by a car that is coming towards me for even a split second, my eyes on those lines, there is nothing to fear. If my eyes stay on those guidelines, I will not become blinded by the brightness.
Living in the forest where there are bears and mountain lions among various other animals that I was sure had not entered hibernation yet, I wondered what if my driving is distracted? What if I encounter one unexpectedly as I walk from my truck to our cabin? How can I keep the animals of life from luring me out of the cloud of God’s presence in day to day life? I was smacked in the face with such a wonderful lesson that required me to change EVERYTHING about my life… and it worked! I’ll share more of this in the next post…
Have you had a similar experience to this one? Are you wanting a deeper relationship with God that is at all times and not just when you are able to sit in silence? Have you been praying for a more God-centered life? Maybe you are like me and feel close to God, but just feel like there is more and He is drawing you closer. I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to post a comment, send me an email, or join one of our Facebook groups and tell me all about it!
For more posts from Women Bringing Heaven about One Words and Starting The Year Off Right, go here: http://raisingstickyhands.com/category/starting-the-year-off-right/
I love music… Especially worship music. I seem to not be able to do anything without it playing in the background. It just brings motivation and encouragement to everything I do. Knowing this, I jumped at the opportunity to review the new debut album from Higher Vision, For Your Kingdom.
Higher Vision Church is located here in Southern California and is quickly growing, averaging about 3,000 attendees each week from all walks of life. Their worship team sings some of their own original songs, and now has released an album.
With a sound that some would find similar to Hillsong Young and Free or Elevation Worship but is also unique to its own style, this album does not disappoint. Each track seems to have a reference to scripture and doctrinal truths, leaving no room for fluff. A perfect mix of upbeat songs that would be perfect on your workout playlist and slower ballads that will help usher you right into the Throne room during your personal prayer time… or, if you’re like me, great to listen to as you drive, do housework, or sew and craft.
Songs on the album include:
For more information or to purchase this album, visit https://sc.lnk.to/HghrVsn
How about a chance to win a copy? You could win 1 Higher Vision For Your Kingdom CD from Higher Vision and Frontgate Media! Follow this link here to find out how to enter: Click HERE!
Have you listened to this album yet? Tell me what you thought about it in the comments!
When it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts for little boys, there usually isn’t a lot of guesswork involved. Most boys have no problem with being straightforward with what they want. Action figures, video games, legos… they know exactly what they want and will give you a detailed description and where to find it upon being asked what they want for Christmas. Yes, we must enjoy this time while it lasts because before we know it they are teenagers and NOT as easy to shop for…
But what about when it comes to a gift that will connect them to Jesus? A gift that will deepen their relationship with their Savior and the Father? Well, there it gets tricky… But I’m here to help! As a mom of 5, 3 of them boys, these are a few gifts that I have given my sons over the years that they actually enjoyed and didn’t get tossed aside.
(I admit that I am piggybacking on Emily’s posts, 5 Christmas Gifts For Girls That Will Connect Them To Jesus Part 1 and Part 2… Feel free to check them out by clicking on the links in the sentence above or on the photos below:)
Music weaves its way into everything in our home naturally. Rather than having my little guys listen to just anything, I try to make sure that 99% of what they listen to lifts up the King of Kings and draws them closer to Him. Sure, we still listen to fun silly songs and what not, but most of the time I try to turn on Christian music that the kids will enjoy and help them grow spiritually. Some favorite singers/bands amongst the boys in our home are The Newsboys, Family Force 5, TobyMac, Hillsong Young & Free, Hawk Nelson, Capital Kings… and quite a few others.
Our family actually has an Amazon Music subscription, making it quite a bit easier for us to access all the albums we love. If your family is constantly buying new albums, this may be a great option as a family gift for you!
Another gift idea that ties in here: Concert tickets! My 9-year-old still says 2 of the greatest events in his life were the 2 separate times he got to see The Newsboys in concert, with the time he got to meet them as his all-time favorite. This was actually a Birthday gift, but it was a gift, nonetheless. While it was a lot of fun for me, I did hang my head in embarrassment when his idea of complimenting Michael Tait was telling him that his arm muscles looked like “tiny bubbles”.
To most kids, a standard Bible might seem a bit dull. Thankfully these days, there are many options when it comes to time for devotion and study. Even for kids! A few of the favorites in our home are The Adventure Bible, the Boys Bible (which includes Grossology… lol), and The Brick Bible.
My kids LOVE to read! I know not all do, but maybe the right book could change that. Books by Becky Fischer and Answers In Genesis have been big hits in our house lately. This Christmas, some gifts will be Indescribable by Louis Giglio, The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New by Marty Machowski, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Hinds’ Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard, The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan, and quite a few others.
Look for a film that either has a biblical message or tell an actual Bible story. You know your child best, so pick a theme that would strike a chord with them. When my kids were younger they adored VeggieTales and Larry Boy. Now that they are a bit older, they watch the Dreamworks movies, Joseph King of Dreams and Prince of Egypt, almost repeatedly. Not surprising given the love of Newsboys in our home, they also love to watch the God’s Not Dead series. War Room is another favorite!
Boys love to work with their hands, that’s no secret. Each child also has their own creative talent and/or interest. Find things that line up with those but can draw them closer to God. Have a child interested in playing an instrument? Teach them about King David and purchase some Christian sheet music. Does your boy love imaginative play? Try an Armor of God playset and explain the purpose of each piece to him. Almost all boys love Legos! Proverbial Homemaker has a few different Brick Challenge sets for sale (and a few free!) that are biblically themed. You can’t go wrong there!
Do you have any other ideas or gifts that you have given in the past that were a hit? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!