Monthly Archives: January 2013
Have you ever thought about what constitutes success? When you think about the word, what comes to mind?
When I think about it, I think about a great career, making loads of money, mansions, yachts, fancy cars, nice clothes and exotic vacations.
My definition of success matches what this world and media have indoctrinated me with.
However, this is the wrong definition of success.
Success holds different meanings to different people. What success might mean for one person may not mean for the next.
As a Christ follower, we are not to define success the way the world does. We are not to chase after the temporal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
What is the use of chasing after something that won’t last or give you fulfillment?
I know loads of people who have a ton of money and by the world’s standard are successful. But if truth be told, they are the most miserable people walking the face of this earth.
Why? Because God never meant for us to be chasing after idols. He made us to chase after Him. He created us to worship Him and have intimacy with Him.
Believe me, it’s not easy living in a world where our senses are bombarded daily by advertisements, social media, music, television and movies.
Someone is always selling us something. There is this underlying subliminal message repeating itself. Buy this and you will be happy. Go here and it will change your life. Do this and you will be famous. Follow this strategy and you will be successful? Drink this or eat that, see this or do that… get the point?
We are constantly driven, chasing after that “next” thing which we “think” will make us happy, fulfilled or successful.
But it’s all a lie, we are just chasing after wind.
Jesus is the only one who can give us joy. He is the only one who can deeply satisfy us. He is the only one who can fill that void. He is the only one who can complete us.
When we have Him and live for Him, we are a success. It’s as simple as that.
Today my prayer is you will see the futility of chasing after things which are temporal and not eternal. May the Lord open the eyes of your heart to see Him and may you sense His profound love for you. His love is the only thing that can truly satisfy you.
What do you define success as? What does success look like to you?
Today I have been reflecting on the state of affairs with the Church and it’s members. Those who go on Sunday’s, fill up the pews and then walk out unchanged. Church has become nothing more than a social club or coffee clutch.
And we wonder why the world doesn’t respect Christians.
I can’t quite blame them. We are wishy washy, sensual, carnal, powerless, materialistic, selfish and self seeking. We only care about ourselves, our agendas, our concepts, our dreams and our works.
We appease our conscience by doing missions work or by feeding the homeless every now and then.
We Christian’s have been acting “politically correct” as not to offend anyone. We basically want our cake and eat it too.
I have decided not to mince words or keep silent anymore on issues I believe need a spotlight.
Lately, I have been noticing that Christians are walking on egg shells around nonbelievers. They don’t want to offend.
I am all fine and dandy about this to a point. But, when I have to make excuses for the sake of unbelievers or told to be sensitive to nonbelievers or to keep silent about my faith, then that’s where I draw the line.
You know why?
Because nonbelievers do and say whatever the heck they want and no one says a word to them. Yet I’m suppose to keep my mouth shut, not say anything about my faith for fear they will be offended or feel uncomfortable?
I walk down the streets of Manhattan and I am assaulted by unbelievers cursing up a storm and acting in offensive ways. I can’t do or say a thing about it either. But yet, I have to be careful around them for being a Christian?
I’m sorry, but there is something terribly wrong with this picture. For me, it’s called compromise. We want to please everyone, but if we call ourselves a Christ follower, then God requires us to please Him first.
Listen, I’m the last person to get in someone’s face and force them to believe in Jesus. But I sure as hell won’t be keeping silent or behaving like I’m not one. I don’t have to be ashamed of Jesus Christ.
Why do I have to make excuses or keep silent that I’m a Christian amongst unbelievers? Oh I see, I have to tolerate them, but they can’t tolerate me?
I presume I have to apologize for my mere existence or for the air I breathe too?
No one is apologizing to me for being a Muslim, Buddhist or Satanist? I don’t expect them to, but nor should they expect me to either.
The way I see it is this, if you are Christian, then you are a Christian, period. I shouldn’t have to squirm, apologize or pretend I’m someone other than who I am to please anyone.
Nor should I have to censor what I write or believe either. With all due respect, if you don’t like what I have to say, you don’t have to read or subscribe to my blog. I’m not here to win any popularity contests. I’m here to tell the truth as I see it. If you don’t agree with it, then please feel free to unsubscribe. I’m not going to compromise my beliefs for anyone… even if it means walking alone.
God gave me the gifts I have and He has blessed me with the ability to communicate and write. He has called me to use those gifts to encourage and edify the Body.
He did not say for us to bury our gifts, He said for us to use them for His glory, not use them for our own gain.
I’ve been reevaluating lately and the more I go on, the more disappointed and disillusioned I’ve become with the state of affairs. The world has seeped into the Church and Christians are acting no different than the unbelievers.
We have evicted Jesus from our Churches, from our projects, from our agendas, from our plans… and mostly, from our hearts. Do we really expect Him to be cool with that?
Sorry, but this isn’t how it works. Jesus said, “But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33) He also said, “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Rev. 3:16)
Yes, God is a loving God, but we can’t take His love for granted.
If Christians keep acting like He doesn’t exist as to not offend people, then I’m afraid the state of affairs is only going to get worse, not better.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel like you have to walk on egg shells, make excuses or pretend you are not a Christian for fear of offending unbelievers?
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 31, 2012)
After walking together through her twenty-three year journey to overcome homosexuality, Christy McFerren and her parents, Mike and Sharon Honea, are speaking up to offer hope to families in a sometimes painful and seemingly hopeless place.
Sharing the stories, pain, joy, and wisdom gained from their personal and family struggles, they hope to become a resource for families that wasn’t available to them during their journey.
More than a guide for families, however, their story is also offered to the Church at large as a starting place for learning how to open their doors and their arms to people who struggle with homosexuality, same-sex attraction, and related issues. Christy and her parents share a vision for a Church who can offer hope and truth, maintaining a firm foundation of traditional biblical interpretation while employing grace and wisdom in revolutionary ways – the very ways that empowered her freedom.
Christy’s message to those who face same-sex attraction is, “It’s OK to Fight.” Her message to the Church is, “Let’s have strong enough faith in God’s divine grace that we can give people permission to be in process.” You can join a supportive community of revolutionary thinkers on this topic at firststepsout.com.
I first met Christy McFerren on Twitter and then started reading her articles on Prodigal Magazine. When she asked me to review her book, First Steps Out, I was definitely interested.
I value Christy’s transparency and courage. She shares her journey about being a Christian, growing up in the Church and struggling with same sex attraction.
I believe this could happen to any one of us. It could have happened to me. As a matter of fact, I was propositioned by many women through my life as a Christian. The temptation to cross over was always available. I can only say it was by the grace of God that I didn’t since I am a curious person by nature.
I personally have close friends who are part of the LBGT community. I was involved in acting and singing for years and many of my friends are gay. I’m also very close to a family member who is a transvestite.
I am vehemently opposed to Christian’s bashing homosexuals. I always say, the sin of homosexuality as the Bible describes, is no worse than committing adultery, fornication, gluttony, lying, stealing, or being religious and judgmental. I honestly do not understand how any Christian can point a righteous finger and judge anyone, much less those who are attracted to the same sex.
This is why I love First Steps Out because Christy understands what it’s like to be judged. She was hurt by those around her while she was struggling. She was given over to her same sex attraction for a time, but by God’s grace and with her parents love, prayers and support, she no longer is.
Today she is free, happy and married to the man of her dreams. What an amazing testimony!
First Steps Out was written for family or friends in the Christian community who has a son, daughter, sibling, cousin or friend who is struggling with not wanting to be in a homosexual relationship. Christy McFerren lovingly offers advice, information and biblical wisdom on how to approach family members properly, effectively and most of all, lovingly.
This book is an excellent, helpful and informative resource for the Church at large. I truly believe every Christian should read First Steps Out. I highly recommend it.
Christy McFerren is a writer, blogger and speaker on the topics of faith and culture. Her blog, Living a Thoughtful Revolution (christymcferren.com), is focused on exploring what it means to thoughtfully live out the answers Jesus gave us to the questions culture is asking. She is also a featured content writer for Prodigal Magazine where she writes stories at the intersection of Church and Culture. In addition to writing and speaking, Christy and her husband Dan run a brand development firm called Thoughtful Revolution. They offer web design and development, brand identity, content authoring and marketing services with a special focus on writers and authors. You can find out more about their services at thoughtfulrevolution.com. Christy and Dan live in Austin, TX.
There was a time in my life where I couldn’t hear, see or sense God. I would pray and it was as if the heavens were brass.
I thought my life would turn out one way and here I was, recovering from the aftermath of a difficult pregnancy, overweight, post partum, sleep deprived because my son was colic and unhappy.
I can’t tell you how hard life was for me back then. I would look around at my friends who were happy and pursuing their dreams.
But I wasn’t. I was stuck in a new reality that I did not want.
I kept asking God where He was. He didn’t seem like He was with me at all. I felt isolated and alone.
When we are in a difficult season of life, we think it will last forever.
My friends did their best to try and encourage me by saying, God is not over with me yet and He had a great plan for my life.
While I whispered under my breath, yeah right. I couldn’t see it. I felt as if God abandoned me.
I was miserable.
Instead of getting better, I got bitter. I was angry and I was envious of others who were living their lives the way I wished I could.
I honestly did not believe I would ever dream again.
I am happy to report I am dreaming again. I’m dreaming God’s dream for me before I came to earth.
You are probably wondering how long it took to get to this point. The answer is a decade. It was only up until recently I was able to dream again.
So for those of you who are raising babies, don’t know what your dreams are, feel really discouraged and inadequate, this is for you:
God has a plan for your life. He hasn’t given up on you. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t abandoned you. He loves you passionately. You are in a season right now. It won’t last forever. He is growing you in the process. Keep your eyes on Him, no matter what and He will see you through. You will dream again.
Have you stopped dreaming? Do you think God has forgotten you?
Why did I become a Muslim? That’s a good question. Because I found the people who call themselves Christians don’t conduct themselves as such.
You see, it’s one thing to be a struggling Christian and yet another to be a Christian leader. As a leader, you are not afforded the same liberties as a lay person.
I think the mistake is that many leaders choose what they want to do, even though God didn’t call them. They want God to co-sign whatever they choose, even though He didn’t choose it for them.
This is where I believe things go awry and what causes unnecessary hurts and offenses within the body of Christ. Because they weren’t called to be leaders in the first place.
God allows them to be there because He gives us free will. However, if you are not called into those positions, you will eventually fall on your face and do some major damage in the process.
We see it time and time again amongst leaders; the misuse of power, misuse of money, misuse of position, misuse of authority and a host more.
I just went through something last week that completely threw me for a loop. I had no idea I would get the kind of response I did from someone who is a Christian leader. To make matters worse, they falsely accused me of something I wasn’t even doing.
I can’t tell you how devastated and hurt I was by this Christian’s actions and words. I wasn’t even able to be heard, get a word in edgewise or communicate on any level with this person. I was refused the opportunity, but was cut off and ignored.
Leaders are supposed to know how to handle and resolve conflict and not treat others as the world does.
Which brings me back to why I became a Muslim… because of instances like the above.
Christians who are cruel, insensitive and basically have no business being in leadership positions at all as they do not exemplify the love of Christ toward others.
If truth be told, I have been treated better by unsaved people more than I have from Christians. True story.
Which is why I fell in love with the Muslim community. I was hurt by the church in more ways than one, you can read about an incident here. When I decided step down from choir and leave the church.
After 9/11, I went to Egypt by myself. I met some Muslims there and spent time with them. I was treated better than I ever was treated by Christians. I was treated so well that I cried when I had to leave.
Is this shocking for you to read? Well, this is the honest truth. Something I’ve kept hidden all this time.
I have only experienced good things amongst the Muslim community. They are kind, loving, generous and will go out of their way to help you in a heartbeat. They really understand what community is all about. I felt like I was accepted and part of a loving family. A family I never had.
I have never experienced that in the church, ever. I see fragments of it here and there, but nothing to the extent or degree that I experienced firsthand in the Muslim community.
Why didn’t I remain a Muslim? Because I had a supernatural experience with Jesus which I believe resulted from the faithful prayers of a few friends.
This is the simple answer, but there is a whole story behind this which I can’t get into now. Perhaps some other time though.
What about you? Have you ever been hurt by the church, a pastor or another Christian leader? If so, how did you handle it? What was the outcome? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.
Singer Ginny Marshall is one signature away from the recording contract of her dreams—a deal that would guarantee success for the former foster child, who still struggles to bury the memories of her painful childhood. But Ginny needs advice from the one person who will look out for her best interests—her former fiancé, Brett Miller. She travels to the remote town of Glacier Bay, Alaska, where the town’s colorful characters and stunning scenery provide respite from LA’s pressures.
In Glacier Bay, Ginny discovers a box of old letters and is swept up in the love story between Clay, an early missionary to Alaska Territory, and Ellie, the woman who traveled there to be his children’s governess. When Ginny is reunited with Brett in Glacier Bay, will she discover—as Ellie did—that healing and love are sometimes found in the most unexpected places?
I have a confession to make. I hardly ever read love stories. I don’t even listen to love songs either. I typically would not choose this genre to read or review. But, I love the authors and decided why not.
I’m so glad I did because I would have really missed out. I was completely blown away by Love Finds You In Glacier Bay. Yes, it’s fiction and yes, it’s a love story. Yet, it’s also so much more than that.
I laughed, I cried, I mean, really crying. I was on the bus reading it and tears were streaming down my face. I just couldn’t help it.
This story is beautiful, enriching, fascinating, deep, life transforming, redeeming and victorious. The characters were so real and as I read, I could envision each one and feel what they felt too.
I was hooked by the first page, without exaggeration. I did not want to put this book down and I certainly did not want it to end.
I know this will sound peculiar, but I even sensed the presence of God when I read this book.
Love Finds You In Glacier Bay, Alaska was healing for me. This story spoke truth to my heart, mind and spirit.
I highly recommend this book. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Tricia Goyer (triciagoyer.com) is the award-winning author of more than thirty novels. She and her husband have six children and live in Arkansas.
Ocieanna Fleiss (ocieana.com) is a published author and editor. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. This is the authors’ third book together.
Desperate is for those who love their children to the depths of their souls but who have also curled up under their covers, fighting back tears, and begging God for help. It’s for those who have ever wondered what happened to all their ideals for what having children would be like. For those who have ever felt like all the “experts” have clearly never had a child like theirs. For those who have prayed for a mentor. For those who ever felt lost and alone in motherhood.
In Desperate you will find the story of one young mother’s honest account of the desperate feelings experienced in motherhood and one experienced mentor’s realistic and gentle exhortations that were forged in the trenches of raising her own four children.
Whether you are a first time mom, or an experienced mom, Desperate will inspire you to be a part of the ultimate goal of the book, to be a part of the no-more-desperate-moms movement.
I do not typically read books on parenting or motherhood. It just isn’t one of my interests, even though I’m a mother.
I was pleasantly surprised at how good this book is. I would have loved to read this helpful and encouraging book after I had my first child.
I enjoyed how each chapter begins with correspondence between Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. After you read about each one’s personal experience on a particular topic of motherhood.
I gleaned a lot from this book even though my children are not babies anymore.
Desperate is informative and a unique read; balancing two perspectives: Sarah’s experience as a young mother versus Sally’s years of experience and wisdom.
I also learned the value of younger women having older women as mentors from this book as well.
I did not have any help when I had my children. My husband and I did it all ourselves.
I look back now and know it was by the grace of God we survived and got through very difficult times.
Desperate offers biblical wisdom and practical advice which I recommend for mothers, especially, young mothers.
Sarah Mae (sarahmae.com), listed as one of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “Six Women Leaders to Follow on Twitter,” is an influential blogger, conference host, and author of the best-selling ebook 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way. She makes her home in the beautiful Amish country of Pennsylvania where she celebrates life with her husband and three children.
Sally Clarkson (itakejoy.com) is the author of several books, including The Ministry of Motherhood, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, and Dancing with My Father. She and her husband, Clay, are the cofounders of Whole Heart Ministries, which encourages and equips Christian parents. The Clarksons live in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, CO.
This is the scenario, you have this picture in your mind of what marriage is supposed to be like or some ideology of what you imagine it to be.
Frankly, Hollywood has done us a disservice with their unrealistic and irrational portrayals of pie in the sky and happily ever after.
The truth is marriage is hard work. It doesn’t come ready made like Cool Whip. Quite the contrary.
I’m sure you heard the first year is the hardest. Believe me, it is.
Two galaxies crashing together under one roof with all their quirks, baggage and what not.
Excuse me, but that ain’t easy.
Single people look at married couples with envy (or vice versa). Meanwhile, what they see is only a snap shot. A glimpse in time.
I feel like telling them to come on over when I’m having an intense fellowship session. I wonder if they’d envy me then?
They have no idea what takes place behind closed doors. Just because they’re smooching and smiling at the moment, doesn’t mean that’s the whole story.
People walk around pretending they have a perfect marriage. God forbid they should keep it real.
If you would have asked me back in the day if I loved being married, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.
For the record, no, I did not like, enjoy or think marriage was the greatest thing on earth. Quite the contrary, I wanted to run from it. It was too hard, hurt too much and it was not what I had signed up for.
The marriage is bliss thing is simply not true, so please don’t buy into the lie.
I can tell you this, I am not at the place I was before, where I simply hated being married with a passion. Where I wanted to be single again and do whatever the heck I wanted.
I had dreams, places to go and people to see. Marriage was cramping my style.
But like everything in life, you have to work at marriage. The word “work” is like the bubonic plague in our microwave society.
We want easy and quick. We don’t like to work or wait. We want everything yesterday.
The minute something doesn’t go our way, we want to run, hide, escape or… cheat.
Yes, I’ve done that too (in the past and not on my husband)… and let me tell you, cheating doesn’t solve your problems, it just adds to them. Instead of having one headache, you have two.
In the beginning, everything is great. It seems like a dream come true. You found your soul mate. Someone who completes your sentences. You feel alive, you feel beautiful, you feel like someone finally understands you… until… the bubble bursts, the nightmare begins and then… the jokes on you.
I know marriage is hard and it hurts, and you want it to give up or get out. You want the ideal situation. I understand all of this.
But marriage isn’t ‘presto magico’. Both parties have to work at it.
My suggestion for anyone at the brink of giving up, is to pray, ask for the Lord’s help and go to marriage counseling. Seriously, don’t underestimate counseling.
I’m thankful I hung in there and didn’t give up, because I can finally say… today is a new day.
Can you relate to this? Are you struggling in your marriage?
It’s a new year, faced with new challenges and new possibilities… it’s time to fly…
I don’t know about you, but for years I’ve been trying to fly…
It’s been a constant struggle… every time I turn around there’s something happening. Situations pop out of nowhere and obstacles get in the way of reaching my full potential.
Awhile ago, I resigned myself to the fact that “one day” I will do this or that. I found myself sitting around… waiting, hoping, praying, wishing and dreaming.
As if something magical would happen to get me to where I wanted to go without doing the work or going through struggles.
I had everything I needed… except belief in myself. Mostly, belief in God.
I limited God, therefore I limited myself.
We do have a choice. We can either choose to believe truth or listen to lies.
I played footsies with the devil for years… we kept dancing the same dance. As time went on, I started to believe this was my life.
I listened to his lies, his whispers and his seductions… luring me here and there like a puppet.
I was at his mercy, controlled by the puppet master… believing in the goods he was selling me. Thinking it was all I deserved, all I was worthy of.
He showed me his kingdom and I believed that’s all life had to offer… Yeah, sure, I read the bible, I went to church, but deep down I felt like an outcast, lurking behind the shadows with his minions.
I wanted to fly, but I was trapped… like a bird in a cage… set free only to do his bidding… manipulated, deceived, used and abused… lost and in utter despair…
He convinced me that I would never fly again. His words echoed, “You are damaged goods baby, who’s gonna want you now…”
I can still hear him, with each step I take and risk I make. The only difference is that now I know he has no power.
My belief in Jesus is stronger and His voice is louder.
He thought he had me… and he did for a while. But, praise God, those days are over.
This year I’m not going to limit God or myself. Even when it gets tough and challenges sneak up (which they have already)… I will continue to focus on Him, believe and not give up.
It’s your time to fly too… will you soar with Him this year?
Publisher: Tammy Helfrich; 1 edition (December 27, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Inspiring people are energizing. There is something unique about them, and they often challenge us to live differently and to impact the world around us.
In this book, I explore examples of amazing people who have said goodbye to an ordinary life. I also encourage you to take your own steps towards becoming a LifeChanger.
I believe these stories need to be celebrated, and I invite you to share your own LifeChanger story.
Becoming a LifeChanger was a motivational read. I found reading about people’s stories inspiring. I believe this was the perfect book to read at the start of a new year.
I learned you can make a difference just where you are. Sometimes we look at successful people and think we are not able to be like them or make a difference. I was one of those people. However, after reading Becoming a LifeChanger I realized I too can make a difference to those around me.
I share in Tammy’s passion in loving to read about ordinary people overcoming great odds and achieving something extraordinary. It gives one hope that anything is possible if you try and don’t give up.
If you want to be inspired and motivated toward change, I highly recommend this book. You will love it!
She loves rallying people around a good cause, and serving others in her community. She writes several times per week at tammyhelfrich.com, and would love to connect with you and hear about your LifeChanger story.
Print Length: 36 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Witty and candid, 100 Pound Loser is a motivational weight loss tool written by a mother of four whose jaw-dropping 100 pound weight loss story and practical advice will inspire, encourage, and motivate readers to conquer their weight loss goals and appreciate their bodies, regardless of the numbers on the scale.
I remember the first time I saw and heard Jessica speak, it was at the Allume conference. I clearly recognized her uniqueness.
She is beautiful, dynamic and hilarious. I can see her getting far in life as she is talented, gifted and different. I also believe she is an amazing role model for young women and mothers.
When I came across her book, I was immediately interested in reading it. I am thankful for the opportunity to read about Jessica’s journey toward weight loss.
I completely relate to her story because I too struggle with my weight. I have a sordid history with the scale going up and down throughout my life. There is a lot of shame connected with being overweight.
I found reading 100 Pound Loser very helpful. Jessica shares how she lost 100 pounds after giving birth to four children. She shares pointers on how one can begin their weight loss journey. I believe what she shares is a realistic method and attainable approach to losing weight.
I am glad I read this book, because I am now motivated to make changes and healthier choices.
As Jessica puts so well, it’s about being better stewards of our bodies and health.
If you are struggling with your weight or health, I recommend you read this book.
Jessica Heights is a Renaissance woman with many facets and a convoluted story. She is the author and founder of Muthering Heights and Other Senseless Sensibility (mutheringheights.com), where she lives her own story — wandering her heart chambers and reveling in the glorious minutiae of life as a woman, a wife, a mother, and an opponent of fibromyalgia. She is the co-host and co-founder Allume (allume.com), the first Christian women’s blogging and social media conference. In addition, she blogs for Operation Christmas Child and enjoys speaking engagements of all kinds.