Tag Archives: disciple

A Jesus Lovers New Year’s Resolution

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newyear2It’s the end of another year and the majority of us are eagerly awaiting the chance for new beginnings and blessings.  We certainly never look at the new year as a time for added stress, pain, or sickness.  In our anticipation and hope of new things to come, we tend to make new year’s resolution – to lose weight, cut out caffeine, go to the gym, work less, sleep more, find a new job, etc.

The question I ask of you as we close out 2013…. What does Jesus want from you?  He very well may be calling you to cut calories, lose weight, and exercise.  He may be tugging at your heart to work less and be at home with your family more.  But what does He want from your heart?  How can your life glorify His name in this coming year?  What changes does God want from you that will ultimately lead you to a closer relationship to Jesus Christ?

Here is a list of New Year’s resolutions all Christians need to work on in 2014:

Forgive more – As a forgiven sinner, you are required to forgive sinners.  Let go of other people’s mistakes and shortcomings, even if those decisions directly affected your life.  Satan will remind you of the pain others have inflicted on you but YOU are a forgiven sinner and are called to forgive the sins of others.  Remind yourself that you have not always been a Christian and that you too have hurt others.  We have all fallen short and we will all fail again.  Pray for those who have hurt you, that they are blessed by God and that those blessings change their lives.  “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

Pray always – It’s so simple to say “pray more” but the thought of praying all the time can seem very daunting.  Rest assured, if you miss an opportunity to pray, you must not give up!  Begin by praying every morning or evening and slowly add in other specific times in your day devoted to prayer.  You will soon notice how your prayers shift from specified times to daily conversations with God throughout your day.  Make sure you also add a few minutes of reflection time to listen to what God says to you about your prayers.  “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Quit worrying – We begin to worry when we feel as if we are not in control.  The truth is, very seldom do we have full control over anything.    When we allow worry to seep into our lives, we are saying to those around us that we are helpless and have no one to turn to.  But as Christians, we must have faith in God and faith in His plan.  Find the good in every situation and be thankful for what God has already blessed you with.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

Give more – Give more of your time, your money, and your effort.  Pray about this specifically and see where God wants you to give.  Does he want you to give more of your money to your church or a mission?  Does He want you to give more of your time and volunteer efforts?  Does He simply want you to give your family more quality time?  Whatever it is that He leads you to give, give wholeheartedly and give as if you are giving to the Lord.  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Go to church – Attending church should not be a Sunday morning visit when times are hard.  Church is a time for weekly reflection and an energy boost.  It’s a time for us to put aside the craziness of life and refocus on Christ and His will for our lives.  Church is a time for Christians to fellowship with other believers and together build the kingdom of God.  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Learn more – Read your Bible this year, start a devotional, or commit to reading that book your spouse has asked you to read.  If you’ve already read the Bible in its entirety, read it again to gain more knowledge.  You cannot go wrong opening your Bible and reading scripture!  But there is power when reading with other Christians and discussing life together.  “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15

Judge less – Learn how to judge righteously and ask God to show you when you’re sinfully judging.  Practice the art of judging the sin and not the sinner.  Find the good in every person and in every situation, even if it’s simply acknowledging that God will use that situation for His glory.  Remember that we have all sinned and fallen short in the eyes of God.  We will all stand on even ground before God one day; your sin is no less than any other man’s.  “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24

Be more gracious – Again, find the good in every person and in every situation.  Treat others with kindness and respect.  Even if we don’t think they deserve it, they really do.  Don’t assume the worst in others, even if their track record shows otherwise.  Give people the benefit of the doubt, always.  Complement those who frustrate you, and add a smile.  Work on changing your heart towards others and people will begin to seem far less threatening to you.  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Plant seeds – Write down a list of people who are non-believers and commit to praying for them over this next year.  Make it your goal to talk to them about Jesus Christ and his unending love for them.  Invite them to church, offer to pray for them, connect with them regularly and allow them the opportunity to see how Christ is working in your own life.  The outcome is amazing to see how God uses YOU and your everyday circumstances to change the lives of others.  You plant the seed and watch as God grows new believers.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Go on a mission – Your mission trip doesn’t necessarily need to be across the world to a third world country.  While that is definitely an incredible experience, your mission field can be right here in your hometown.  Your mission field is the path you drive to work and the places you run your errands.  To be on a mission for Christ is to tell others of Christ and bringing His Good News to non-believers.  Begin by asking strangers, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?”  Spend time everyday preparing for your mission work and ask God to show you where your work needs to be done.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28: 19-20

To put our focus on Christ rather than ourselves is ultimately what God wants for our lives.  He wants us to depend on Him.  When we do these things, our lives begin to take on a new meaning and good things begin to happen.  We will still suffer loss and heartache, setbacks and pain.  But life becomes bearable when we walk with our Savior and allow Him to lead the way.

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A Life Well Lived 2014 Day Planner and Prayer Journal Review and Giveaway

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I confess… I’m the housewife and mother who refuses to give up her day planner.  Yes, I like to flip the pages, write on the paper, use different color ink and / or highlighters.  Some technology gurus may even call this blasphemy and convince me I can do the same thing or even better with today’s technology!  I’m not even ashamed to admit that I spend quite a bit of time each December seeking out the best planner for our family.  My planner must be durable with plenty of room to write and ample space for a family of six and all of their appointments and activities.  I spend hours searching for the perfect planner and have even thrown some out and started over after the year has started because it simply didn’t fit the needs for our family.  Finding the perfect planner is a very important decision for us and one that I thoroughly enjoy accomplishing.

The Judgmental Christian has been blessed with the opportunity to review and give away A Life Well Lived 2014 Day Planner and Prayer Journal.  I’ve been sitting here with the planner and journal for almost two hours now and am simply amazed at all this planner offers.  It is very apparent that much thought and hours of prayer were put into the planner and journal from the very first page.

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The focus of the new 2014 planner is Getting Life Right.  The planner begins with the testimony of Jesus’ perfect earthly life and His desire for us to “live a holy life in preparation of eternity with God.”  When the first words of a planner grasp my heart and make me yearn to be more like Christ, I know it’s going to be a winner!  This company is not only concerned about selling fabulous planners but making sure we are living according to scripture and getting our schedules aligned with God’s desire for our life.  The makers of A Life Well Lived want to see us dedicated to serving Christ and reaping the rewards God has in store for us.

The planner then opens to the Seven Steps to Discipleship that help us to seek and know God’s will for our lives.  There are daily action steps provided as well as corresponding scriptures to these steps that help guide us towards daily growth in our Christian walk.  I simply cannot think of a better way to start off this new year and again each day than to evaluate my relationship with Christ and then to begin putting into place those steps necessary that will help me reach the goal of becoming a better disciple for Christ.

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The planner is divided into 365 daily pages.  My initial thought was that maybe this was too much space, even for a girl who likes writing and doodling areas in my planner.  But upon closer look, the planner becomes more than just a calendar of events.   It’s your devotional, a prayer journal, and calendar all in one.  There are words of wisdom and daily scripture readings. There are daily suggestions that encourage growth in your spiritual discipleship.  A place is set aside for daily prayer concerns and praises, and directly across is additional writing space for your goals and tasks God has placed on your heart for the day.  And of course there is ample space for your daily appointments!

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Each new week has a different theme that assists in your Christian growth.  Some of my favorites include priorities, witnessing and ministry, debt and money management, family and home, accountability, humility, mentoring and leadership, spiritual disciplines, tithing and giving, contentment and peace, and forgiveness and salvation.  The daily scriptures, words of wisdom, and discipleship suggestions all work together with the weekly theme.

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Other remarkable features include:

  • Daily Bible readings that allow for the Bible to be read in one year
  • Seven Steps of Discipleship bookmark
  • Month-at-a-Glance pages as well as a Month-in-Review pages
  • A guide to help create a personal mission statement
  • Action steps for achieving financial goals and success
  • A reference guide for accomplishing goals in your life
  • A list of suggestions for Random Acts of Kindness
  • Daily Proclamation page

The mission statement of A Life Well Lived reads, “Our mission at A Life Well Lived is the Great Commission.  We exist to revive the Christian faith and rebuild the broken wall of discipleship by helping as many people as possible grow in their relationship with Christ in such a way that they are inspired to participate with us in Jesus’ final instruction.”  I believe they have done a remarkable job of growing disciples for Christ.  I am so very excited to begin the new year with a daily focus on God’s will for my life and organizing my life’s plans according to God’s will for my life.

You can purchase your own 2014 Day Planner and Prayer Journal combo pack for just $29.95.  Be sure to also follow A Life Well Lived on Facebook and Twitter for future promotions and special offers.

To enter the giveaway for your own A Life Well Lived Day Planner and Prayer Journal, enter HERE.

The Cost of Being a Disciple

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dare-to-be-a-discipleLuke 14:27 says, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  Ask yourself…

What does this mean?  What is the cost of being a disciple?

It shouldn’t be surface level.  It isn’t just about smiling to someone, tithing, going to church, or even praying before meals.  It means carrying your cross.  Can we carry our cross full of our sins, no matter the weight, and still have faith in God?  Are we willing to accept Christ in our lives fully, knowing that Satan is going to challenge us at all costs?  Are we willing to accept life-altering circumstances (a death in the family, loss of our homes or jobs, cancer, or perhaps even our own death) and still be faithful to Him?

I certainly hope so!  We should be searching for Christ in all circumstances – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We should be very real with Him – real about our pain, anger, frustrations, joy, thankfulness, love.  We need to come to Him in everything, bearing all of our emotions knowing that He will continue to love us even after we’ve shed tears in frustrations.  But we rest in knowing that afterwards, He will speak to us and lead us through our next steps.  Our Heavenly Father will listen and then be obedient to us, never leaving our side.  He allows me to talk so candidly with Him and I love that He also speaks to us without reserve.

For me, being a disciple is being prepared as a follower of Christ to do the hard things and still put my faith in Him.  It’s about listening to Him with open ears to His plans for my life.  He may call us to do big things such as taking a stance for a controversial agenda, becoming a missionary and leaving behind everything we know, enduring cancer or a tragic death in the family.  It may be staying home and raising your children, standing alongside your spouse, or working in the church nursery.  Whatever the mission field, we must be prepared to follow Him and continue to spread His word.   We must be a disciple and know that in all things, Christ is with us.

2 Timothy 4:7 says this, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Being a good disciple is accepting Christ in our life and being faithful in ALL circumstances, even in the midst of trouble or feeling the weight of my cross.  For me, being a disciple is being able to say I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept up my faith.

But we are still here, we haven’t finished our race.  Are we keeping the faith?

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Awake Our Souls

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Then He said to me,

Prophesy to these bones and say to them,
Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones,
I will make breath enter you,
And you will come to life.
So I prophesied as I was commanded.
As I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound,
And the bones came together, bone to bone.
And I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them,
And skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then He said to me,
Prophesy to the breath,
Prophesy, son of man, and say to it,
Conjure the four winds of breath and breathe.
Awake my Soul — Chris Tomlin/Lecrae

The shootings. Guns. Abortions. Hatred. Murders. Sin. The lies. Drugs. Homelessness. Lack of God. Sickness. Fear.

This is America, where freedom rings. We have so much to be thankful for. We have everything here, yet when you watch the news and read the Facebook statuses, it’s all poor me, help me, SIN, fear, it’s a fallen world. People seem to care more about what the next trends are and the biggest and best gun to be bought before Obama bans them. We don’t see people in America.  We see ourselves, we want the American dream with the cars, the house, the perfect children. We want it all…

I don’t like America. I want to like America, I want to like the white people, I really do. I keep hearing the Lord say “GRACE, baby girl, love them, teach them”…. I don’t know how to extend grace to people who have everything and yet when they look at their lives they see nothing. I want America to WAKE UP. We have SO much here, so much that we should be a living example of heaven! If we  only cared as much about our children’s education and as we did about Obama banning guns or better yet, if we cared about our relationship with the Lord, America would be such a different place!

America is not dead, we have a fighting chance here, we have hope. We have more churches on every corner then we even know what to do with. Can you imagine America if we all stopped and just prayed? Really think about it.  If we all came together and worshiped our Lord, sat at his feet and tossed our crowns down… AH! what a glorious moment that would be! America can conquer sin.  I mean shoot, Jesus did the hard part people!  If we would just stop for Him and do what He is asking, if we would stop for each other and see the best in people, if we chose to love, if we lived and breathed His words that He put on this earth so you and I could live this world for HIM!

As I sit here in tears, I need to choose to love America. I can not throw it away and just move to Africa. I am just as much called here as I’m called to Africa. I need to choose grace on His people, I need to love the unlovable, I need to choose to love His people who do not yet know the love of the Lord. If I can have hope for a place where Jesus is not even known, I can and WILL love America.

— JESUS, help me. Help us. Come down this week and lavish your precious love on America. Wake your people up God. Encounter them so they have no choice but to bow at your feet. We owe you everything God, you deserve America to look up at you in love. Help our unbelief, you make ALL things work for your good, ALL things. Help me learn how to love your people here, to love them like you. I believe America will one day be yours again, not just pieces of it, but all of it. This is my cry God… To see this place be yours, to love your people, to show grace when you ask me to! Forgive us Father for not turning to you. We need you. We love you. We want you here! I love you papa, thank you God for saving me!
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IMG_9083edit copyBreanne is a missionary in Kenya, Africa and blogs her adventures at I African Love You.  She lives in Bella House working with children coming out of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Missionary Q&A

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1. Why would you want to live with the poor and sick and risk getting sick yourself?  The poor are often pushed aside and thought of as demented, mentally challenged, or simply lazy.  We don’t know how they became homeless or sick.  We don’t know their circumstances and it isn’t our place to judge.  It is our place to love and serve.  Everybody needs a chance to hear of Jesus’ love and redemption.  We are all called to serve the poor, the destitute, and the sick.  Paul says in the bible “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”  The sick need help, they need medical intervention and they need someone to pray with them and offer hope.  The poor have basic needs that need to be met.  Any missionary will say, “Why not me?  Why shouldn’t that person be me?”

2. Why would you want to leave your family behind and what if a family emergency happens, how would you afford to get home?  Missionaries serve individually, serve as a group, or together as a family unit.  Either way, they often leave their extended families behind.  It’s important for missionaries to have their family support back home, knowing there is someone always praying for their safety and well-being and even for God’s will to be done through their family member.  Communication back home is oftentimes hard to maintain but through modern technology and with the help of social media, families can stay in touch.  If an emergency happens, everyone must remain faithful that God will provide, whether it be timing that communication can be made, a plane ticket home, or support from a nearby friend to offer comfort.

3. Why can’t you just help the sick and poor in America?  It is definitely true there are still poor and sick people right here in America and right here in our own cities.  Missionaries are called all over the place – local and overseas.  There are many organizations that provide help locally for the poor and needy and many times church groups will volunteer time to serve daily or short-term mission work.  It is far more time-consuming and costly to serve overseas and because of this,  serving locally may be your only option.  Missionaries who travel abroad want to serve where there is less help with less fortunate circumstances and God has provided them with the means to do so.

4. Why in the world would you want to give up money year after year and never earn a dime in return?  I would think all missionaries lean on scripture and faith knowing their God knows their needs and will provide.  Matthew 6: 31-34 says, “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Missionaries have such incredible faith, knowing God will always provide, even for their basic needs.

5. How do you really know that God is calling you to missions and you secretly don’t just want to travel around the world?  I don’t think the mission field looks anything like a tourist vacation spot!  Missionaries do not have the funds to travel the world.  They raise the money needed for their plane tickets and once they are at their destination, any traveling they do is by foot.  A vacation to a missionary resembles a hot shower, any food other than rice and beans, and electricity.  You can tell in a missionaries eyes the passion they have and the desire they have to live just like those they are helping.  Who really wakes up and WANTS to live not knowing if they’ll eat that day, if they’ll get a foreign disease, or even if they’ll get to bathe?  Only those serving God truly desire to sacrifice those necessities and live faithfully that God will provide.

6. How do you live without money?  The Bible says in Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  God provides basic needs through various means.  Churches and nonprofit organizations support missionaries and there are people who commit to supporting an individual person or family while they serve long-term.  Short-term missionaries often host fundraisers for their trips.  If you ever get the opportunity to support a missionary, do so.  The Bible says in Matthew 25:40 “‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”  When you support a missionary, you too are caring for the poor and needy, you too are bringing people to Christ.

How will you serve?

Missionaries

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The purpose of a missionary is to be God’s servant, to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  We are all called to “The Great Commission” –

Matthew 28:16-20 – “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

There are missionaries in your local community, some who serve nationally, and even those who commit to serving overseas.   There are missionaries who serve short-term missions and those who dedicate their entire lives to serving God.  Those in the mission field can be found taking donations for their local food pantry or crossing geographical boundaries to live in jungles or with tribes.

Isaiah 6:8 says, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “’Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”

Missionaries give their time and energy, their heart and soul, and often times their entire life expecting nothing in return, other than the fact that they can stand and say there were obedient to God’s call.  They literally become the hands and feet of Christ with every breath they take.  They do not receive a paycheck for any service they provide whether it is food, medical care, or the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  They rely solely on God’s word that says He will provide for all their needs according to the riches of His glory (Philippians 4:19-20).  Long term, life long, overseas Missionaries are often the most misunderstood Christians.  The outsider looking in doesn’t get it, they literally cannot grasp why someone would give up everything they own, move to the other side of the world from their families, and rely on “others” to support them.  When God said He would use the least of these, He was and is literal.  He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.  And let me back this up by saying I have been a witness to this first hand on more than one occasion now.

God wants the Good News of His word told to everyone and missionaries make this happen.  The Bible says in Matthew 24:14, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” We are not all called to serve as a long-term missionary but I do believe we are all called to do mission work.  Our mission may be to love and show Christ through our actions at work or school, it may be to support a local organization, you may be called to become an advocate for a national charity, or you may very well be called across borders to a lifelong journey of spreading the gospel.  In addition, we are also called to support our missionaries.  You can do so by donating money to the youth going on a Spring Break mission trip, providing items needed for your local non-profit organization, committing to supporting missionaries who are serving fulltime, or simply give your time and energy to a cause.  For many of us, the “mission field” we are called to is right in our own back yards.

If we all work together with our personal abilities, if we all actually answered with a resounding YES to what He has called us to, just imagine the amount of work we can all accomplish for His glory!  We all have different gifts and qualities that make us unique and together we are ALL the body of Christ.  We are the hands and feet and it’s up to us to share His good news.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28: 19-20

What is He calling you to do?  Have you answered YES?  Keep in mind, when we don’t answer or we wait too long to answer, He will move on.  He will find someone else who says YES and then we lose – we miss out on the blessing that He had planned for us!

Read our Missionary Q&A blog.

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