The Best Thing I Ever Got for Free

Virtuous Woman Proverbs 31
Virtuous Woman
Proverbs 31

The Best Thing I Ever Got for Free

I’ve received many things in my life that did not cost me anything.

But none of them were free.

Not a single one.

Everything I’ve Ever Received Cost Something

The one thing I received for free that literally made me cry was the above cross stitch work.

It was done by an older lady in our congregation at the time.

Her name was Nina Roll.

She met me after church one day in the parking lot.

She had a package in her hand. She said it was for me.

I didn’t really know her. I knew of her, and I saw her around.

She handed me this beautiful cross stitch of Proverbs 31.

The photo just doesn’t do it justice. It is large. The details are beautiful.

No One Had Ever Done Something So Beautiful for Me!

I found out later that she had made things like this, and this exact pattern for other people in our church.

However, that did not make me feel any less important.

But It Wasn’t Really Free.

It cost time.

I’ve done a few patterns of very small cross stitch projects.

The very small ones take a lot of time.

The material to make them costs something.

It also took thought.

She had to decide who to make it for.

And she chose me.

This is what makes gifts like this so valuable.

It is what it represents as well as the beautiful gift itself.

And there is another gift I received.

I was chosen to receive it, too, although others can get it, too.

The Best Gift I Ever Received for Free

cost a lot to that giver, too.

It cost him his life.

Jesus gave me the best gift I ever received for free.

He gave me himself.

That is the kind of gifts that are the best:

Gifts of yourself and your time.

What is the best gift you ever received for free?

What did it cost the giver?

What is the best gift you ever gave to someone?

 

 

Jeff Goins Is Only Partially Right

Joe (my dad) & Uncle George
Joe (my dad) & Uncle George

Jeff Goins is only partially right

Jeff Goins in his course Tribe Writers mentions the fact that when someone says you are one-in-a-million, that means you really aren’t that special; because with the current world population, there would still be a lot of people like you.

He says it tongue-in-cheek in that you need to build a tribe for your writing, and one way to do that is to find people who have a worldview like yours. And there are a lot of people out there that have your worldview.

The reason I think he is only partially right (about many people being like you) is that you are not one-in-a-million.

There is just one you

One. That’s all. After you were born, the mold was thrown away.

This is true even if you are an identical twin.

If you look at the photo above, you will see a photo of my dad, Joe, and his brother, George.

They were identical twins (both now deceased sadly).

But I didn’t know that for quite some time.

After all, they didn’t laugh alike. Their voices were different. They had different personalities. They had different skills.

And according to my Granny, they walked across the room differently. She knew which one was which by the way their footsteps sounded.

What does this mean to you?

Since there is only one you, you need to make sure that you don’t hide from the world.

There are many writers. Many of them say things a lot better than I do. But they’re not me. They don’t know the people I do. They don’t write the way I write.

You have a skill that others have, too. In fact, there may be millions of other people who have the same skill you have, and they may have the same worldview you have (according to Jeff).

But only you have all the experiences you have, and have had the conversations you have had, and say things in just the same way you can say them, or add that special touch to them.

There may be a person that needs you to tell them something that will help them to have a better day. Maybe there are a lot of people who go to that store you will go to tomorrow. But maybe the other people in line didn’t smile at the cashier and say, “Thank you.”

Maybe you are someone’s mom. It doesn’t matter if other moms say nice things to your kids. They want to hear it from you. Not the other millions of people that are like you. They’re not their mom.

Maybe you want to give up and quit.

I feel that way sometimes. I really do. Why write? There are some really excellent writers out there. (Jeff Goins happens to be one of them.)

But I’m not Jeff.

I’m me.

And you are you.

That means that you and I have a responsibility to touch people’s lives that only we can touch. To reach out and do something for the people God places in our lives as you go through the day.

So, don’t give up. You’re not one-in-a-million. You are the only one of you there is. Irreplaceable.

There is something you can do that no one else will be able to do in just the way you do it, and for just the right person at the right time that comes across your path, reads what you write, or simply gives away a smile.

Note: The above link is not an affiliate link. Jeff’s course is excellent.

A Little Boy with Hope

A Little Boy with Hope
A Little Boy with Hope

The news is really bad recently.

But that’s nothing new. It’s just that to get our attention it has to be gorier lately.

How do you keep from tuning it out?

There were other times things were bad, too. It’s just we didn’t have photos to show us how bad they were.

At least not as instantaneously.

I watched a really nice story of a girl who was making sure that funerals for vets got live music instead of a recording of taps.

Then another video was suggested.

No warning of the graphic nature of it. A man was beating up an old woman on public transportation in our country. The driver tried to help. She was also a woman.

The saddest part? The news media made a big deal about all the other passengers getting off safely from the back of the bus.

REALLY?

I really hope those who left were very frail people. The guy wasn’t using a gun. He was using his hands. If people had ganged up on him, he would not have been able to continue.

Instead the driver had to disable the bus and wait for the police to come and arrest the guy.

These kinds of stories make me sick at heart. So much cruelty. So little help.

But that makes me even more determined to do something!

But what can I do?

There is so much trouble in the world. So much poverty. So much sadness.

So, do you give up, or do you try to do something?

I choose to do something.

Calstone is a little guy.

His mom died.

Then his dad remarried.

Then his dad died.

His stepmom continues to take care of him, but it’s not easy.

She has other children, too.

For just a little a month, he can get food, clothing, and go to school.

In the first picture I got, he looked sad.

Now he has hope.

Hope will make you smile.

You can make someone smile.

I keep his photo near my desk.

It helps me to remember that not all the news is bad.

Do something.

Christian Relief Fund

(Unaffiliated link)

 

I Didn’t Want to Be That Girl by Sue A. Allen

I Didn't Want to be That Girl
I Didn’t Want to be That Girl

I Didn’t Want to Be That Girl by Sue A. Allen is an eight-week study. Each of the eight chapters has a study for five days of the week. It is meant to be studied in a group but can be studied individually.

I spent about two months going through the study, reading the accompanying verses, and working through the questions on my own.

It has discussion questions, Scriptures to read, and questions to consider for your life. There are 213 pages, and they have very little white space. So, in other words, it is a very in-depth study.

Here is a quote from the book to get a small glimpse of the study:

No matter where you fall on the scale of Christian maturity, there comes a time when you will be faced with serious doubt. We have so much more in common with Eve than we may readily admit. Eve experienced serious doubts about God and fell to temptation by the serpent. I believe doubt is the number one way that Satan robs our ability to hear the voice of God…We begin asking ourselves, “God, was that really You? Is this what You want me to do? How come I all of a sudden feel all alone? If this is where You want me to be, then why in the world is it so hard?”

The book uses different aspects from the life of Eve as a jumping off point for looking into aspects of our lives.

I received this autographed book from the author to review. When it came in the mail I was surprised. The book is an 8 1/2 x 11 study guide. I thought it was a paperback book.

It was a very interesting study.

I have one to give away.

Of Life, Love and Family by John Tracy Wilson

Of Life, Love and Family book with Break the Chain CD both by John Tracy

 Of Life, Love and Family by John Tracy Wilson is a memoir: Book Available on Amazon (unaffiliated link).

The author tells of his relationship with his father, how it shaped his life, the things he wanted to do differently with his children, and struggles to be the man he knows God wants him to be.

This book includes lyrics to some of the songs the author has written.

The CD, Break the Chain, came with this book in the contest I entered: Break the Chain Music CD by John Tracy (unaffiliated link).

The book is written from a Christian point of view. The songs are what I would consider easy listening.

Some of the songs on the CD are not Christian per se such as ones about being an officer of the law, one which is about the love a dad has for his little girl written at the child’s birth, and one that is speaking about not passing on the bad things learned from parents down to the next generation.

If you want to learn more about the author and his music, visit his Website: John Tracy’s Website (unaffiliated link).

Note: I received this autographed book and CD combo from the author in a Good Reads contest.

Zeal without Burnout by Christopher Ash

zeal without burnout

Zeal Without Burnout on Amazon (nonaffiliate link)

There are times when you get discouraged and want to quit. This book is for you if you feel that way.

Christopher Ash wrote this book for those who love the Lord very much and are working diligently to spread his kingdom. However, it also serves as a warning of doing work that will be sustainable.

He experienced burnout in ministry. He also includes stories of other people’s experience with ministry and burnout. He explains that ministry is not just for pulpit ministry but includes those working in nonprofit jobs, or anyone who does ministry in any aspect for God.

Zeal without Burnout explains the difference between burnout and sacrifice and why the distinction is important.

The book’s main point is that there are things you need to do to take care of yourself, because you are not God. The author explains that when you do not take time to do the things that are needed for renewal, you are trying to be a mini-god, and that is why it won’t go well for you.

He backs up his ideas of things you need for renewal from Scripture.

The book is not just a “preaching-to-you” kind of book. It also is very encouraging. He gives gentle reminders:

There’s always more we can do in ministry, but God is not asking “Can you do more?”. He is asking “Do you love me?” Some of those extras are not always as vital as we think them to be.

He also reminds us that we are not the only ones affected when we try to be heroic:

“The problem is that we do not sacrifice alone. It may sound heroic, even romantic, to burn out for Jesus. The reality is that others are implicated in our crashes. A spouse, children, ministry colleagues, prayer partners and faithful friends, all are drawn in to supporting us and propping us up when we collapse.”

A minister who was trained as a psychiatrist before being ordained wrote a section at the end of the book. In it he talks about burnout from that standpoint which is helpful. He includes how to tell when you are reaching the point of burnout.

If you think you are too busy for this book, then it might especially be for you!

Note: I received this book for review, and I highly recommend it.

Why Keep Praying (When You Don’t See Results)

DSCF0420

Why Keep Praying (When You Don’t See Results) by Robert Morris

Do you get discouraged and wonder if it is any use to continue praying?

I would recommend a book by Robert Morris which is a 175-page hardback book.

It is four chapters in length :

  1. Why Pray at All?
  2. Building Bridges to Heaven
  3. Keeping the Prayer Line Open
  4. Receiving and Releasing His Power

It includes an Invitation to Pray which has prayers by categories.

These prayers are words taken directly from the Bible.

It has beautiful photos and encouraging words such as this:

If Jesus Christ, God’s Son, needed to pray and make vital personal contact with God the Father every day, do you think there’s a possibility that we need to do that too?

and this:

God is immutable and will never, ever change his character, But he can and will change His mind when his people pray.

He tells stories of prayer warriors.

He talks about why you can get discouraged.

The book is a great read to encourage your faith and spiffy up your prayer life.

Why Keep Praying (Available at Christian Books)

Note: The above link is not an affiliate link. It is provided for you convenience.

 

What if Pain is not about You?

What if Pain Is not about you-

I’ve been studying the book of Job for several days now.

The more I study it, the more confusing it gets.

However, in my observation of pain I see some of the same reactions I’ve seen in people’s responses to Job to people who are in intense pain, especially those who are dying.

I think people have been too tough on Job’s wife.

Job’s wife when seeing the pain he’s in says to him:

Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die. (NLT Job 2:9)

That’s sort of harsh, isn’t it?

Perhaps not.

Have you seen someone in pain?

Terrible pain, the type that you want to give them drugs to help them ease them through it so they do not have to suffer.

What is the reaction of people to people in pain?

Here are some I’ve seen in person or in the news:

  • Let them kill themselves with the help of doctors. It’s legal in some states.
  • Kill them yourself. Several news stories come out of where a person kills someone in pain, then takes their own life.
  • Put them in a drug-induced coma until they die

Job’s wife’s response to me says she loved him a lot.

Now, she is asking God to take her husband?

Where would that leave her?

She didn’t have children to take care of her.

There were no assets left. They had been stolen or destroyed.

If her husband died, she would truly be a widow left to fend for herself.

Perhaps she could marry again.

But someone might think she would bring bad luck. After all, look what happened to the person she had married before?

I think Job’s wife couldn’t bear to see her husband in pain.

Pain doesn’t just affect you.

It affects everyone around you.

If you have to go to the hospital, you have to interact with medical providers.

If you go into Hospice, you have to interact with Hospice workers.

Friends may bring you food.

Your family may not have funds they need, because you can’t work and are sick.

You might complain a lot. Job did. His friends had to listen to that.

But what if pain is not about you?

In Job’s story I see the following people/entities who were influenced by Job’s reaction to his pain:

  • Satan, whose name means Accuser
  • Job’s wife
  • Job’s friends
  • God’s reputation
  • The four servants who had to bring Job the terrible news.
  • Generations after him who read his story

How Job reacted to his pain brought glory to God.

James, perhaps Jesus’ brother who wrote the book of James in the New Testament, uses Job’s example for us to follow:

…Job is an example of a man who endured patiently…. (James 5:10-11 NLT)

Pain is not easy to take.

It’s hard on us. Very hard.

We may feel like giving up.

Don’t give up when you’re in pain, because

Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s not about just you.

Note: Design meme by Canva. Neat little Website for making graphics.

Satan & Job Agree about God

Job believed in God.

He feared God, and this caused him to take action:

  1. He stayed away from evil. (Job 1:1)
  2. He offered sacrifices for his children “in case” they had cursed God in their hearts after partying.
  3. This was his regular practice. He had a habit of seeking God’s blessings.

Satan believed in God, because he saw God and had conversations with Him.

Satan came before God along with the angels (sons of God as they are also called). God asked him what he had been doing. (Job 1:7)

The New Living Translation calls Satan The Accuser. We see where he gets this name in his discussion with God.

Satan believed God was personally involved in people’s lives.

Satan accused Job of only serving God for what God gave him.

Ooh, that’s a good accusation! Is it true for us?

Do we follow God because of His blessings?

Job 1:3 says that Job was the richest person in the entire area. God had blessed him.

Now, in case you don’t know, there is a verse in Hebrews 11:6 that says:

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (NASB)

So, that expectation of being blessed is not misplaced, and is in fact required to come to God. The form of that blessing may be disputable. You decide.

God bragged on Job.

God asked Satan if he had noticed Job in all of his comings and goings. He bragged to Satan about how Job had feared him and stayed away from evil. God called him:

…the finest man in all the earth. (Job 1:8 NLT)

That is a high compliment coming from God!

Would God brag about your life to Satan?

Then God allows Satan to bring tragedy on Job. Four different areas of his life was affected:

  1. He lost his oxen, donkeys and farmhands who were taking care of them – except the messenger who told him this news. Before this messenger finished speaking, another one came and said–
  2. He lost all his sheep and the shepherds taking care of them which was caused by fire from heaven (perhaps lightning?). Before this messenger finished speaking, another one came and said–
  3. He lost his camels and his servants taking care of them were killed – except the messenger who told him this news. Before this messenger finished speaking, another one came and said–
  4. He had lost all 10 of his children in the same disaster!

I don’t know about you, but Satan doesn’t do his work half-heartedly.

Job’s response to all of these tragedies is amazing. He lived up to God’s assessment of him.

Job believes that God is personally involved in his life.

He says God gave him everything he had, and God took everything away that he had (Job 1:21)

Satan and Job agree: God is personally involved in people’s lives.

And remember the reason I said I don’t really like studying this book?

See the link to my post below.

Today on the way home from making deliveries to clients, my check engine light came on. So, I’m going to have to take my car to the shop. I always make sure my gas cap is closed well. So, it’s probably going to cost a lot to get it fixed.

I have a lot to be thankful for; so, I’m going to believe that God works everything to good. Maybe not like I would like it, though.

See this post to understand the direction of this series:

Looking at Job through the book Believe

 

Looking at the Book of Job through Believe by Randy Frazee

A small group I’m involved in at church has been studying the Believe series written by Randy Frazee as part of a series we are studying church-wide as well. The study has 30 sessions, and is broken up into three parts. Our church is studying 10 sessions, taking a break to study something else, then coming back to the next 10 sessions.

The link below is an unaffiliated link, but is given if you want to look at the in-depth material available for this study.

Believe Store on ChristianBooks.com

During this break our small group was discussing what we should study next. One member of our group, Bert Barbee, suggested that we look at the book of Job using the first 10 core beliefs in the first part of the book.

I decided I would blog my study notes and share them with you.

One thing I have to say at the very beginning is, I don’t like to study the book of Job. This is because each time I’ve gone into an in-depth study of Job I’ve gone through some difficult times. And I don’t think that’s accidental.

The book of Job, I believe, is understood more when you have gone through difficulties. If you haven’t, you might not understand Job’s point of view.

We are breaking down the 10 core beliefs into three parts and reading through Job three times (or more) looking at only a few of the beliefs at a time.

Here are the first three:

  1. I believe the God of the Bible is the only true God– Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  2. I believe God is involved in and cares about my daily life.
  3. I believe a person comes into a right relationship with God by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

To start, here are my baseline thoughts, and things I want you to consider:

  • The Bible does not try to prove God’s existence. It assumes God exists. It claims to be the Word of God, and it is written from that standpoint.
  • Jesus is prophesied in the Old Testament, but He wasn’t revealed clearly until the New Testament. Therefore, #3 above may take a few leaps in this study. You decide.
  • This study is not “authorized” by Randy Frazee. So, I have no idea what he would think of it. Maybe he’ll comment if he happens to see it. I would not mind if someone took my book and studied it in a different way. It is a way to say that it was a valuable piece of work.
  • I believe books of the Bible are written for specific purposes and to specific people. However, I believe that if you take the Bible to be the Word of God that God can use verses to touch people in ways that perhaps you might not get in the same way someone else does.
  • To go along with the above, since the Bible is the Word of God, each time you read it, you will find something that speaks to where you are now in life. In other words, it is a living document.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NASB)

I hope you will join this study, and carefully pray throughout it. It will be challenging as the book of Job raises a question that all people have at some time in their life if they believe in God (and sometimes even if they don’t) that goes along with the first two beliefs: If God is God, and he is involved in our personal lives, then why are there problems?

To give you the shortcut answer, I believe that because God is God, he is above our understanding, and there are some things we just can’t understand, and because he is God, and he is involved in our personal lives, then there is a purpose to pain, suffering, and problems that we can’t understand.

Here’s a verse that I learned in middle school which helps with this point of view:

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 KJV)

The second part of this verse is important, too. The things that are revealed are to help us to obey God.

Conclusion:

We may not understand why God does what he does, but studying his Word will help us to do what he wants us to do. If you take the belief that God is God, then you need to take the belief that goes along with it; and that is, God knows what is best for us since he created us. He knows what will make our lives work better. So, it’s a good thing to know what he reveals to us.

I’d love to hear your comments. I may not publish anything that is trying to start a fight, though. I’m not comfortable with that approach to studying the Bible.

 

 

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