{Online Book Study} This Is Not The End

Cindy1Written by: Cindy Morrone

We all want what’s best for our children. We are diligent in our rearing of them. We sterilize their bottles, lather on sunscreen, participate in play groups, educate them and sign them up for extracurricular activities. But what if we are missing what matters the most?

The Jesus factor.

When Doretta in her week 6th teaching, asked us, “What part of Ephesians 3:20-21 stood out to you? And why?” I re-read the verse,

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21

and the words, “to all generations forever and ever…..” in that moment caught my attention.

In this season of change for our family, as our daughters prepare to enter into high school, they have experienced heightened feelings of anxiety. And what has helped before doesn’t seem to be as effective now. Our hugs are no longer stopping the tears completely. Our words and best advice don’t take away all the fear. And we certainly can no longer tuck them under our wings.

This doesn’t surprise us but the Mama in me doesn’t want them to feel this way. We want them to be well; healthy in body, mind and spirit.

So we continue to pray.

We pray for the power of our Saviour that we see active in our everyday prayers, be alive in theirs as well. We ask our Lord on their behalf to do amazing things to build their personal faith.

We pray together; asking the Lord to help us. We share the Word of God with them and pull out Scriptures that are relevant to their own personal struggles. We set an example by seeking Him in our own lives. We sing songs of praise and worship. We meet with our church family.

And as we come alongside our daughters in these experiences as painful as they might be, we see God’s mighty hand at work, in our daughters’ lives! They see it too and what better could we give to them?

This verse is for them too and their children and their grandchildren…….to all generations! Because our God is Able! For me. For our marriage. For our precious daughters. For our family. For you and yours! Amen!!

{Online Book Study} We Will Always Have Its

IMG_6200Written by: Christianne Williams

I have come to the conclusion that we will always have its. At least I know I will. There will always be those things I encounter that seem to be big, so big that nothing can be done to change or fix them. There will always be those things that seem too small to bother God with, yet they impact my life in a very big way. There will always be those things that we could believe God to help others with but not me, I’m just don’t have that much favor. It’s how we choose to deal with these situations that really matters, and now, after having the light shone on these verses, we should have a different perspective if we take the time to reflect on God and His word.

If I had to deal with even everyday frustrations in my own strength I wouldn’t make it very far before I’d want to throw in the towel, but relying on Someone Who has so much more power and wisdom than myself makes life go smoother. My first response isn’t always to turn to God though. A lot of the time I choose to fumble along on my own, trying to ‘handle’ life instead of inquiring of God and truly experiencing His help. I don’t know why we’re like that but sometimes asking for help is a very difficult thing to do.

When my kids were learning to do something new on their own, they always refused the help I was so ready to give. The wanted independence in the biggest way but somethings they were attempting were just a bit outside of their abilities. In the same way I believe that we are wanting independence but we were never created to have independence from the God who created us, knit us together in our mother’s womb, loves us, and desires to be active in our everyday lives. The need to have His help becomes blindingly apparent in our it circumstances.

Psalm 121:2 says “My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth”. Since this is true, and my God can do exceedingly, abundantly above we could ask or think, then what do we ever have to worry about, or carry on our own? Why do we choose to struggle when all the power of Heaven is waiting to help, to comfort, to give wisdom, to work things out for our good? God’s power and love are inexhaustible! In the same way we desire to help our own children, His desire is to help us. He never stands with His arms crossed refusing to listen, He never turns a deaf ear to us. Therefore, we can always depend on Him, who does above all we could dream up with a power that rules over everything, to work things out for our best. And that means even if we don’t understand why things are happening as they are, just trust in His goodness.

‘If I’m going to be an open book about anything, I want it to be about how blessed I am that I am loved by, cared for, and sheltered under the mighty, sovereign grace of God. The world we live in may not have a very high, personal view of His ability. They may not think He can operate supernaturally in people’s lives anymore. But I know He can.’

If we can look at the life we’ve been given as a story that is completely written, we don’t know how it will turn out, but the Author does, it makes life more of an adventure. He’s given us promises as we live it that it will work out for us if we can trust Him during the twists and turns and allow Him to guide us along the way. It’s not always easy, but it will be a book that will speak to others so loudly and so boldly that others will be influenced along the way. We are so blessed to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, something eternal!

As we put this book away, let us not forget the wisdom we’ve gained, let our confidence in the One who orchestrated this whole journey to grow daily.

{Online Book Study} But They Make It Look So Easy

image1 2Written by: Ashley Sigrest

Our family has always enjoyed watching the Olympics. The best of the best from all around the world competing to be known as a champion. These skilled athletes make their sports look simple.

If a normal person like you and I attempted to vault like Simone Biles we would greatly injure ourselves. My oldest son tried to swim at Michael Phelps speed and immediately began gasping for air. What these athletes do isn’t just hard, it’s impossible without training.

When I first became a stay at home mom I often compared myself to two other moms I knew. Their homes were always spotless, they were constantly doing DIY projects, and they always looked stylish and put together. And this was before Pinterest was invented!

Oh how I felt like a failure! I would wear myself out trying to be like them and no matter what I did, I never measured up. I would cry and complain to my husband,

But they make it look so easy!

He comforted me and reminded me to just be myself. To focus on what I was good at and to keep trying at the things I wanted to accomplish.

The more I got to know these other moms I learned why they seemed to have it all together. One grew up sewing therefore whipping up new curtains was easy for her. The other joked about all the horrible DIY fails she had painting furniture until she found her groove. One even confessed her low self-esteem and how always wearing make-up and dressing up makes her less self-conscious. And then to my shock, one admitted how she admired the kind of mother I was. It amazed her how I always seemed to stop everything to play with or read to my boys. She couldn’t do that til everything on her list was done.

The thing is, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Even Olympic athletes. Social media can often give us the impression that others have it all together or can do everything we can’t. We have to keep our perspective in check. Social media typically just gives us the high lights.

Sometimes natural talent gives way to great accomplishments, but everything done greatly is done through perseverance and hard work. Olympians spend the majority of their lives training to compete. Those moms I mentioned, they took the time to learn how to craft and chose to work diligently to make their homes beautiful.

Comparing ourselves hurts not only our esteem, but can also damage our relationships with others. Be of good heart sweet sisters! We’re all on the same team!

We know watching the Olympics that what they’re doing isn’t simple or easy. So moms let’s keep in mind that not everything another mom can do is easy for her. If there’s something we admire in another mom let them know. Congratulate them! Then let’s ask them for advice or help if it’s something we’d like too try.

Nothing great ever comes easy.

{Online Book Study} He Stuck With Me…

Megan01Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Shame, unworthiness, defeat, fear, and worry are terrible places to visit and even worse places to stay. They are where the devil takes you when he wants you to obsess over your faults and wallow in your weaknesses. They are where the devil takes you when he wants you to believe all of the lies he is feeding you with your favorite spoon. They are where the devil holds you when he wants you to believe your sin is too big and when he wants you to believe that last big mistake you made is the one that is unforgiveable. They are the places where the devil tries to convince you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or important enough to ever make a difference in this world.

But Sisters, God does not want us to take root in any of those places. He wants us to take root in Him! In fact, he wants us to loudly proclaim our victory and redemption in him and share our stories.

Psalm 107:1-2, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” (ESV)

In “God is Able,” Priscilla Shirer says this, “Your It problems have probably seemed to defy resolution. They’ve mocked your attempts at steady endurance, insisting they have the staying power to outlast whatever confidence you can muster up, even on your best days. They’ve pointed to their presence alone as ample proof, not only of God’s lack of ability, but worse—His lack of concern. And yet you’ve finally seen through their showboating now. The One “who is able” is the One who’s telling you the truth.”

Ya’ll, I lived much of my life…we’re talking 30+ years…proclaiming to be a Christian but not making choices that represented Christ well. I would go to church on Sundays, say what was preprinted in the bulletin each week, and then proceed on about my life making the same poor decisions and trusting that I could go to church on Sunday and be forgiven! I had no idea what a relationship with Jesus meant and I certainly didn’t understand the magnitude of the ultimate sacrifice God had made for me…and for you. I took grace for granted and never had a heart of true repentance.

I am beyond grateful for God’s constant pursuit of my heart and am here today to tell you…God. Is. Able. He stuck with me through seemingly endless insecurity due to lack of people ‘staying’ in my life. He stuck with me through seemingly endless shame due to living a life of sin for so long.

Psalm 40:2, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (NIV)

And He is sticking with you gals. Nothing you have done, will do, or will face in this lifetime is too big for Him. Let Him be your Savior, your Redeemer, your Provider, your Comfort, your Strength, your Guide, your Anchor, and your Peace. And never doubt that He. Is. Able.

{Online Book Study} No Box Required

FullSizeRenderWritten by: Melissa Lefevers

Have you ever been to a friends house for dinner and it was so amazing that you had to get the recipe before you left? Then you went home cooked it yourself a couple days later and it was NOTHING like your friends! How does that happen? You followed the step by step directions and even used exactly what she used. Yet, it was still not what you were expecting.

I hope for you and me that this journey we have been on through Priscilla Shirer’s God is Able is not like such a recipe. I pray we do not look at this book as a way to follow a step by step guide and get what we want out of it. However, I hope we use the encouragement and the Word of God to move in us and truly see that He is Able.

As we wrap up this study let us not forget that our greatest struggles allow God to move in us, draw people to Him and help us shift our focus from the it we identified at the beginning of the study – to Him. I feel that often we, myself included, try to pack up God in a neat little box. We read what we want and pull out what we think we need. God has never been in a box and we should never put Him there. We cheat ourselves from the many blessings as well as the greatest relationship of our lives by putting him there. Our God is a no box required kind of God.

Let us be encouraged by many who have gone before us and tapped into the power of God and showed us how awesome our God truly is. I cant help but share with you one of my favorite lines in scripture. Let me set up the story for you.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were some pretty amazing guys. They had been taken from their homes and thrust into a pagan city. They stood their ground and stood up for whom they believed in. God blessed them by making them governors over the king’s territories. One day King Nebuchadnezzar decided to make a huge statue to himself and demanded everyone bow. The boys refused and the king threatened to have them thrown in the furnace. They still refused and said this:

O Nebuchadnezzar we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know. O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the image of gold you have set up.Daniel 3: 16-18

I am sure they were scared to death. Yet, in the face of death they had such confidence. They declared before the king that their God was Able. They were thrown into the furnace that was heated seven times hotter than normal and they were rescued. Jesus showed up in that furnace and they emerged with no burns and did not even smell like smoke. The king was so amazed at what our God did that he praised God. Yes, God used this situation to show Himself to the boys and He got all the glory.

Be encouraged that God can rescue you from whatever fire you are in. He can and will save you. More importantly he wants to work out a miracle in your marriage, your relationships and your heart. Whatever you are going through with your husband he wants you to see Him. He wants you to turn to Him and keep your focus on Him and not your it. He is right there in the fire with us and we can come out of the fire not smelling like the smoke of the situation.

Let’s not put God in a box or write out a step-by-step guide to tapping into God’s power. We have all we need already in us through Christ to face whatever obstacle comes our way. God is able to work a miracle in our marriages and in our hearts if we would let him. God is Able.

EpNow to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to the power that is at work within us to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

{Online Book Study} Too Much Goes Unsaid

Phil-Bio-PhotoWritten by: Phil Zinck

Birthdays.

We all have them, every year, and have God to thank each time they roll around. I had my 53rd recently. No big deal; 53 is not a special number, just another prime number with no sexy or spiritually metaphoric spin. One of those numbers that once paralyzed baristas in the new era of copper-less currency (is it 50 cents or 55 cents?) until they programmed the cash registers to do the hard math.

But still, it was my day, so I relished the well wishes that flooded social media for a couple of hours from true friends and followers. And while many were expressing hope that I would have a great day, some people actually took time to reflect on our relationship and offered true words of encouragement.

I read some of these testimonies to my wife as we were enjoying our Sunday morning coffee. After a brief period of silence, my wife made a simple yet powerful observation: “those are great words of encouragement, Phil, but just think how much more meaningful and life changing those words could be if they were spoken. How many people out there are craving affirmation and acceptance yet never hear such words that could make all the difference in their world?

Too much goes unsaid.

My mind went to Matthew 5:13, 14 where Christ exhorts the disciples to personify a life committed to the cause of Christ, anchored in the promise of salvation and a life eternal, both in word (salt), actions and deeds (light).To manifest the power of salvation in word is to speak into the lives of others in every situation, not from the finite reservoir of our human understanding, empathy or intelligence but from the infinite, limitless reservoir that is the saving Grace of our Lord and Saviour. And when we proclaim the power that is His name we open the door to the infinite, limitless possibilities for God “. . . through His might power at work within us, to accomplish more than we might ask or think.” (Eph 3:20, NLT).

There is a popular quote attributed to St Francis of Assisi states “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” While there is truth in this statement it can (and dare I say, HAS) become an excuse in many circles for “live a good life so people will see goodness” in place of proclaiming the power that comes from speaking His name into any situation. After all, it’s easy to live a good life as measured by world standards, but takes courage, compassion and commitment to be the voice that speaks into the darkness the power of salvation through the name of Jesus. Showing our faith is a must, but it will be found lacking without proclaiming its source. We need to do both. We need to live both.

The group “Jesus Culture” has written a power song “Break Every Chain” that magnifies and lifts up above all else the power that is the Name of Jesus:

There is power in the name of Jesus,
There is power in the name of Jesus,
There is power in the name of Jesus,
To break every chain,
Break every chain,
Break every chain.”

In Chapter 6 of Priscilla Shirer’s book “God is Able” she reflects on the Apostle Paul’s time in prison where he declared in song (his “prison doxology”) that despite his chains, he believes in the power that reigns in proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ.

The good news is that this power reigns today and changes lives today. We must speak into any situation the name of Jesus –

Speak salvation in the name of Jesus,
Speak forgiveness in the name of Jesus,
Speak hope in the name of Jesus,
Speak restoration in the name of Jesus,
Speak peace in the name of Jesus –

and believe that the power that lives in the name of Jesus will break every chain. It’s not up to us to create change; that is what the Holy Spirit does best. Ours is to speak, to proclaim, to lift above any other name, the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Let’s live, like “a beacon on the hill”, and proclaim, in the Name of Jesus, a life that manifests the greatness of God’s grace in His gift of salvation, in every situation, in every opportunity.

{Online Book Study} Week Six Teaching

DorettaWritten by: Doretta Zinck

This week we will be reading and studying the final chapter called: FinallyTell it.

So after reading this book and looking hard at the truth of God’s ability, what do we do with our “it”? Can we walk into the battlefield while feeling like the pain or trial is sucking the life from us, keeping us from moving forward in God’s promise of victory? Can you declare that God is able to empower you to change your thinking, your behaviour and your desires?

The time is NOW!

The TURNING is unto Him!

The truth is HE IS ABLE!

He TRANSCENDS our understanding when we open up the TOTALITY of our life to His ability!
His power is working within you!

To Him be the GLORY, in the CHURCH and in CHRIST JESUS, to ALL GENERATIONS forever!

Discussion Questions:

  1. What part of Ephesians 3:20 stood out to you? And why?
  2. After doing this study, do you feel you have a better understanding of this portion of God’s Word?
  3. When you stop and think about this scripture as a whole, what are your thoughts?

{Online Book Study} To Him Be All The Glory; Not Us

Cindy1Written by: Cindy Morrone

Seasons of change are exciting at best and terrifying at worst. What’s usually experienced is all in- between; a rare combination of both hopeful expectation and fear happening at the same time.

Change rattles us. No matter how small the change, like using a new brand of tooth paste, it is noticed. We like familiar; we like consistent; and we like predictable.

Our family is in a season of change; a really, really big change and I, my friends am finding it difficult. I find myself wrestling with old ways of thinking and believing as we embark on this next season. I want to cling to the past of what was because it’s familiar, consistent and predictable.

After 5 years of homeschooling our daughters, it is our belief that they are to now enter into high school outside of our home.

The questions and worries abound. Are they prepared? Will they succeed? Are my babies going to be ok?!?!!

And then, what will I do? How will I continue to serve my Lord, my family and my community? For the past 5 years I have been a stay-at-home homeschooling Mom. My life has been enveloped by this lifestyle. I have loved this time; this way of life.

It is easy for me to think about all the things that could go wrong as we forge ahead into this change. It is not hard to expect failure, anticipate disappointment and believe in a dreadful outcome.

And yet….

There was a time when we started to homeschool and that was new. It was a huge change to our once two-income, work-outside-the-home, public-school-going-girl, family. And the doubts and worries existed then too.

On the other side of that adventure we know full well that we experienced God in ways we wouldn’t have had we not entered into that change in obedience to God’s will for our family. We experienced God in amazing, incredible and new ways. We saw His provision when it could’t come from anywhere else. We knew His peace when our circumstances funneled into chaos. And even though we spent most days; all days together, we loved each other deeper with a love that poured from Him. A bolder faith was grown and birthed a new calling; fostering.

We experienced what Priscilla on page 143 describes, “Every time He leads us to a place of total surrender, with everything offered up to Him for His use, what we’re really seeing is the work of God, because He alone is able to make that kind of change in this kind of heart. He alone can turn our kind of problems into the most incredible kind of worship.

To Him be all the glory!! Not us.

And although I wrestle with these doubts I admit I am also so very excited!! For my precious ones. For me. For our family.

A big change? Yes! But as I pray, I choose to see, “It’s a glory maker, not a troublemaker.” (p. 143)

For it’s in these times; these seasons where God has an opportunity to shine!

But when our eyes look through our prayer requests and see not only a chance for personal relief but also an opening for God to burst forth in well-deserved glory, we’re speaking the language of His heart. We’re letting this problem or issue do what God wanted it to accomplish all along when He allowed it into our lives—to showcase His ability, to spotlight His strength, to invite the healing showers of His sustained glory.” (p. 142)

So, we’ll see you on the other side, friends. I cannot wait to share with you all He has done as we continue to step in faith in obedience to Him!!!

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen Ephesians 3:20-21

{Online Book Study} This Is What People Look For…

IMG_6200Written by: Christianne Williams

I went on a very special outing with my daughter this morning. She needed to spend her birthday money, and I needed to get out of the house for a while so off we went. It was a beautiful day, not too hot at that point. As I was driving and singing I was thinking about the message of chapter 7, it’s something that is near and dear to my heart. Being a tribute, a living, breathing, testimony of the goodness of God. Enduring hardships only to still proclaim His goodness and mercy, despite the evidence that lies all around us. This is what people look for, they look and listen, to how we handle things and what we say when things aren’t going well in the natural realm.

As I looked out the window I saw a thick stand of trees, not much else. It must’ve been darker and cooler in there than else where, you probably wouldn’t be able to see very far ahead of you. I drove further and arrived at the top of a hill where I could see beyond those trees. The road curved along, winding through open fields, more trees, on through a town, and eventually reached the city. I could see then, further than the position on the road I found myself in at that present moment. We can’t always see very far ahead in life, usually only the few steps ahead of us, but God sees the whole thing. He knows what He’s positioning you for. He knows what the road will bring.

Six years ago, during a very long and difficult hospital stay, we had a doctor use an analogy that I think explains this. It was simple because we were not doctors and he was trying to explain to my husband and I the gravity of the situation our four day old daughter was facing. He said, “Last night, we were in the swamp. Now we’re out of the swamp but we’re in the forest. Our goal is to get out of the forest.” Now we knew that with God’s help she could find her way out of the forest but for that point in time, that’s where we stood. Not even the doctor knew exactly what the days ahead would bring. From the way things had looked the previous night, he wouldn’t have thought she would make it out of the ‘swamp’. We had to remember that this was a part of the journey, not the end, and the circumstances we were facing were going to have an impact on future events.

Now, six years later, I can clearly see the all of the ways that God used the situation to show His glory and unending power, but at the time we had to just ‘deal’ with it. We had to choose to trust that this part of the journey would later unfold into another beautiful chapter, yet for us to read, but completely written by God. At the time it felt pointless, excruciating, but it did play a part in how we approach God today. How our kids view Him because they’ve experienced His provision, protection, and peace, not to mention healing in ways that have left us floored. Our daughter’s illness has produced several tributes.

What a miracle that we can trust in God’s ability, that we can sit or stand in this place and be part of what He’s doing all over the place, that we can stretch out our faith and even our need, and give Him the honor, the glory- the tribute- He deserves.’

Trusting Him that what we’re going through now, the decisions we make today, will play a role in things to come, some that we may never witness, and knowing that it all makes a kingdom difference, helps us to worship and praise Him in the difficult times as well as in the good ones.

{Online Book Study} The Bonus Bin

MandyWritten by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Each week I strategically plan out my grocery list. I use this super-incredible app on my phone called “Flipp” to help me get the lowest prices on the items that have worked their way to my list throughout the week. This process of “Flipping” is both exhilarating, exciting and stressful wrapped in one. I mean, who doesn’t LOVE a great deal— but those deals take time to find and not every week is as bountiful in the deal department as the last.

This week I was able to “Flipp” several items possibly marking this grocery adventure as my best yet. My greatest savings were on a gigantic box of diapers which saved my budget over twenty dollars. I was so excited by this savings I called both my husband and my parents from the van to share it with them. My excitement could not be contained.

“         …And in this book, as we reach the final phrase in Paul’s doxology on the ‘beyondness’ of God’s ability, I find myself marvelling at how God multiplies His blessings. When He moves within our lives, He doesn’t stop at doing just one miracle, at on time, in one way, for one purpose. The abundant capabilities and possibilities of God’s activity position us over the bonus bin, because He does nothing without doing a whole bunch of things at the same time.
He’s a two-for-one specialist…and then some.” Priscilla Shirer, God Is Able, (pg. 136)

Friends, our lives truly are positioned over the bonus bin. God’s outpouring, His exceedingly abundant outpouring of blessings in our lives is quite something. Take a moment and just think about the ways God has blessed you this day; this week; this month; this year. My guess is that your blessings are too vast to give an appropriate account of.

This post, however, isn’t about the many ways in which we are blessed. We have established that we are incredibly blessed by God. Instead, this post is about what we do with our blessings. Do we sit on them, keep them and our excitement about them to ourselves? Or, do we embrace every single opportunity we have (both big and small) to bestow the glory that is owed, and so desired for, to God?

Turning the glory back over to God isn’t something I have been stellar at. It hasn’t been an intentional omission. But, Priscilla has gotten my attention and I do plan to make some changes. God is so big, so great and has blessed me, protected me and saved me…on countless occasions. I have missed opportunities to give Him glory in the past, maybe you have too, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead with a new intent to embrace every blessing and every provision as a fresh opportunity to give God ALL the glory He deserves with an uncontainable excitement, as I was with the diaper deal!

After all, anything and everything God does is so much better than even the very best deal.

Now to Him…be the glory…forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20)