< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: February 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Christian Book Review

This is a review of the book "Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family" by Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo.

When I first found out I was expecting (over 20 years ago) I felt like I had joined a club. Women who were already moms started to treat me differently. Like now I was one of them. I didn’t realize how true that was until I read this book.

Clubs are usually made up of like minded people. And it seems like mothering follows a formula.

The authors of Mothering from Scratch, tell women that there is more then one way to do it and it depends on your gifts and personality and interests and background. That we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other mothers. And that we don’t have to be perfect.

They also talk a lot about raising children in a Christian home; believing that the mothering journey can be a strong catalyst for our Christian faith as moms.

I liked what they wrote here, “As moms, our first mission fields are our homes. We’re ministering to those closest to us – our family. Raising kids in a godly manner can contribute just as much to the world’s causes and concerns. Remember, every saint had a mother. We can never underestimate the impact we have on those who are watching us make difficult God-honoring choices as we raise our families. Our witness can be powerful, especially on young women who are observing godly examples of mothering.”

One more piece of advice they gave that hit home with me was, “Don’t let your kids’ accomplishments and opinions of you become the focus of your worthiness. Don’t expect your family to give you enough love or approval to fill you up. Focus on God.”

That is so important. How many moms are trying to be liked by their kids? When I was a kid there was a distinct difference between someone being your mom and someone being your best friend! The authors say, “Do what’s best for your children, not what’s best for your ego.”

At the end of each chapter there are questions to ask yourself and reflect on, followed by a list of ideas to work on.

This is a good book for someone about to have children or still have children living at home. I was given a copy by Bethany House to give an honest review of it.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Live a Life Worthy of Your Calling

Ephesians 4:1-16 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

These verses show us what our conduct should be like as members of the church. Applying them to our lives will make us more like Christ. We should live lives worthy of our calling! Always striving to keep the peace. Being patient with others. He stresses the unity of the church. And there are seven things that unite us – one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God.

And we use our gifts “for the equipment of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.”

We are working toward maturity, to knowing Christ better and to have an answer why we believe what we do.

The powerful message we carry works in harmony with a practical demonstration of God’s love. In a devotional I’m reading, the author wrote, “God created us for a purpose. That purpose is to love. To lay down our lives for love. He is the primary focus of our love. As we press into Him day after day, hour by hour, He fills us with His love. Then He places in front of us person after person who needs a touch from Him and we love them with His love. That is our calling, our destiny. It is the cost of love.”

After we encounter the goodness and love of God, the first thing we need to learn to do is give it away. Being laid-down lovers of Jesus means forsaking ourselves and our small desires in order to exalt and promote Him. In laying down your life, you truly find it. In surrendering yourself to God, you find your true identity and thrive on it.

Through the act of giving up your small desires, you receive God-given dreams that far surpass anything you had dreamed of previously.

Love God, Love others. That’s the essence of the Christian life. It doesn’t matter how many people we touch in life; it’s about how we touch them. Those who are touched by genuine love and compassion will remember it. But without love, all our efforts profit us nothing. We won’t win passionate lovers to the cause of Christ with empty words. We will win them with a demonstration of the tangible love of God.

God’s plan for His Will to be done, His Kingdom to come, is to be done through His church. As flawed as we are. He intends for us to be the tangible expression of Christ’s presence in our community. When unbelievers see a catastrophe – a school shooting – a Katrina – whatever – and they ask, “Where was God in that situation?” – the answer needs to be: He’s in the Christians who came forward to help, to pray, to serve, to give money!

This is us as a body and each of us an individual!
As we engage together to live a life that centers on loving Christ and loving others, we begin to accomplish God’s mission of bringing healing and wholeness to a suffering world. We have to engage in our church.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Need to be a part of a Church Community

If we want to experience the life that God intends for us, there comes a point where we shift from being merely recipients of grace to being channels of grace to others…we no longer hold God’s love for ourselves, but find ways to share it with others…we stop being spectators and become participants in God’s transformation of the world.

Our individual calling is always a part of God’s mission for the church. We cannot fulfill our individual calling without being a part of a Christian community.

God chooses to accomplish His work through the lives of ordinary people. He blesses the world through the church.
The church is:
  1. More than another helping agency in the community.
  2. More than a body of like-minded people doing good things in this world by the combination of their human interests and talents.
  3. It is intended by God to be nothing less than the tangible expression of God’s rule and reign on this world.
  4. A divinely formed community of disciples, called into being by the spirit of God and energized by that same spirit to accomplish God’s work through God’s own plan.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Called to Priesthood

As followers of Christ we are called to active participation in Christ’s ministry of service in the world. All of us!

1 Peter 2:4-10 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
As a royal priesthood we are set apart not for privilege, but to proclaim the love of God to all the world. No one person is more important than any other. None of us can build God’s house by ourselves. We are all critical to the work of glorifying God and sharing the Good News.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Review of the book “An Insider’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare”

I expected more of Kristine McGuire’s personal story then she gave. But that may just prove what she says about people having an interest in the occult. Even Christians. She used to call herself a Christian witch.
In "An Insider's Guide to Spiritual Warfare" she tells us exactly what Spiritual warfare is: why we have it; and tracing it back to Satan's fall before Adam and Eve.
She points out that it's not just the big battles we see played out in history and on the news. It's what goes on in our own minds every day.
She says:
It is in the prayers we say or forget to say,
It is in the choice to be kind or hurtful.
It is in our work ethic or lack thereof.
It is in the people and relationships in whom we choose to invest or not to invest.
It is in the experiences, mundane or supernatural, we accept or deny.
It is in the causes we take up or reject.
Every day the battle wages.
What I took from this book was:
Because we are made in God's image, and as Christians are called to be like Christ, every time we show Him to the world we win a spiritual battle.
And every time we don't, by a choice we made, we lose.
She also does a great job telling the reader how to protect themselves by putting on God's armor. And I really liked the chapter where she gave examples of how to "pray back" scripture.
All in all a very helpful book.
*I was given a copy by Chosen Books for my truthful review.

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