Preparing for Thanksgiving: Five Verses to Ready Your Heart

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This is the third in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

 

Psalm 100 is one of my favorite scripture to meditate on as we approach the Thanksgiving season. When I think about that first Thanksgiving I imagine the Pilgrims and Indians in 1621 gathering to thank God for a bountiful harvest.

Thanksgiving-PinterestBut long before that another group of people had set aside a time to celebrate God’s goodness. It was the children of Israel during the Feast of Booths. In the fall after crops were harvested, the people had a time of worshiping and thanking God for all He had done for them. They brought their offerings of Thanksgiving to the Lord. (Leviticus 23: 39-44)

Psalm 100 is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God that we can reflect on during this Thanksgiving.

Day 1   “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 100:1

Have you ever felt so thankful you just couldn’t keep quiet? Sometimes I just stand in awe of God’s handiwork in the things I see around me in His creation. Sometimes I just want to proclaim what an awesome God we serve! Everyone on the earth is admonished to praise His name because everyone benefits from God’s goodness! In Psalm 19:1-3 and Psalm 98:7-8 it says that all nature joins in to declare the glory of God and sing praises to His name. It is neat to imagine the rivers clapping and hills singing together for joy in praise to God.

Day 2 “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.” Psalm 100:2

There is joy in serving Jesus! We can all serve Him whether we are young or old. Offer to teach a Sunday school class or volunteer to take a meal to someone or go visit someone who is in need of a friend. And sometimes the hardest thing is to do it with a happy heart. Many times we do something because we know we need to…. but our heart isn’t really in it. Having a joyful attitude comes from loving God and reading His word and spending time in prayer. With happy hearts we can use the talents God has given each one of us for serving Him not just during the holiday season but each and every day!

Day 3 “Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who made us and not we ourselves; we are His people the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3

God is the very one who created us. He knows us better than anyone. He know when we all overwhelmed or discouraged with so many things pulling at us in a hundred different directions during the holidays. That’s when we go to Him as His sheep and lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:2) Find that quiet spot and sit beside the still waters talk to God. He loves us and will restore our weary soul! He cares for us like a good shepherd and for that I am truly thankful.

Day 4 “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name.” Psalm 100:4

We are so blessed in this country to be able to go to church and worship God freely. Being thankful for God’s love will show in our actions as we enter into worship and praise with others who love Him too. I love to gather together with my church family during Thanksgiving and hear testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness and mercy. Bless His name for all he has done for us!

Day 5 “For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness is to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

One of my favorite sayings is “God is always good and you are always loved”. What a great truth to know that the God of this universe loves us so much He was willing to send His Son to die and take the punishment for our sins. We simply have to believe and He gives everlasting life! (John 3:16) God’s lovingkindness is everlasting! He will love us forever!! And His faithfulness is to ALL generations! God daily loads us with so many benefits. God knows our needs and watches over us and never leaves us to fend for ourselves. He cares about us and will always do what is best for us. God is so good!

 

Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and a time to turn our thoughts to God and His word and realize how very blessed we are of Him. Every day is a gift that we have been given…so every day (not just at Thanksgiving) thank Him and praise His name!

Preparing for Thanksgiving: Welcome an Attitude of Gratitude

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This is the second in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of  Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

I really enjoy our church Thanksgiving Eve service. My week has usually been hectic and I have a house that needs cleaned and food that needs to be prepared but nothing helps my “attitude of gratitude” more Thanksgiving-Pinterestthan this night! Everyone enjoys homemade pie and then we have an informal time of singing and testimonies. It is good for me to hear others thanking God for what He has done in their lives over the last year. For some it has been a difficult year with pain and sorrow but they are still praising God and that is so encouraging. Sometimes it is a child who gives a testimony and it doesn’t get much better than childlike faith! I always go home feeling blessed and thankful for my church family! If you don’t have a Thanksgiving service at your church maybe you can make a list of the ways God has been good to you over the last year. Then have your own testimony time by thanking Him for all He has done!

We can also welcome gratitude to God for all He has done and provided for us by doing something special for others! We have so much to be thankful for as Christians. We have a God who loves us and has provided a way for us to have a home in heaven through Jesus Christ. When we place our trust in Him we receive eternal life. We enjoy the freedom to worship God here in America. We also have warm homes to live in and an abundance of food to eat at our tables. Every day God has richly blessed us and that should make us willing to bless others.

Plan to take a traditional Thanksgiving meal to some elderly or needy people in your church or neighborhood. It would probably be easiest to plan your dinner before Thanksgiving. This is a great service for kids to be involved in. They will love helping and it is good for them to see that we love and care about others. You might also want to print out Psalm 100 and attach it to one of the food containers. Contact families ahead of time so they will know you are coming and be sure to spend a few minutes and visit with them as you deliver their Thanksgiving meal. I know it seems like a lot of work but everyone will receive a blessing!

And then there is Thanksgiving Day that we spend with family and friends. It might be the biggest test for our attitude of gratitude! Most people get together on Thanksgiving Day with those they love and friends they care about. We celebrate together on Thanksgiving Evening. If we know of a family who doesn’t have their family close we will ask them to come join us. Since some have already had turkey and stuffing and are a little “stuffed” themselves we just do appetizers. It seems to be a big hit at our house. I usually put out our Scrabble game and everyone is to make a word about something they are thankful for. Mostly the kids like to do it! Sometimes I have the grandkids draw something they are thankful for and we have to guess what it is! An active game time usually finishes or evening together. I am so blessed and Thanksgiving Day and every day is a good time to celebrate God’s goodness!

 

God’s Incredible Love

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From our Publisher’s Desk

As the seasons change from summer to fall and the air becomes cool and crisp, I am reminded of Ecclesiastes verse three, chapter one, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” During the past months, we have seen and experienced things none of us could have imagined or predicted. There has been much fear of the present and the future. But as Believers in Christ, we can be at peace. This verse reminds us that there is a time, place, and reason for everything…even sickness and unrest. Although this year has taken many of us by surprise, we would be foolish to think that God, in all of His glory, did not see it coming. And even though the seasons and everything around us may change, God “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). We cannot blame Him for current events because the Bible clearly states that, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,” (1 Chronicles 16:11-12). If God is the same and gives good and perfect gifts, and there is a time for everything, then even in the year we have experienced, we can be at peace and at rest in Him. We can find comfort in His Word by searching out and memorizing the many truths that it offers us. Malinda Fugate’s book, The Other Three Sixteens, does precisely that. Many of us can recite John 3:16 from memory with no prompt. However, were we to be asked to recite Genesis 3:16 or Romans 3:16, we would be at a loss. Throughout Malinda’s book, she dives into each book of the Bible and expounds upon each chapter three, verse sixteen to show the numerous truths that can be found throughout the God’s Word and not just in John 3:16. She shows how a loving God and His mercy are woven throughout each chapter and verse of Scripture in seemingly unexpected ways.

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“John 3:16 is a central sentence, one of many anchors we find in the pages of Scripture. But every single chapter and verse has eternal value, from the eloquently poetic to the seemingly mundane, historical details. The words of the Bible weave a tapestry of love, particularly the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children. A love so deep and so wide that it cannot be contained in one memorized phrase. It takes multiple authors of sixty-six individual books to begin to explore the mystery of God’s care for us. I propose an adventure. It will be an expedition through the living and active Scriptures we hold in our hands and yet can’t truly contain. If every phrase in God’s word connects us to His love, then there are gems to uncover wherever we dare to seek them. Let’s take a cue from John and look at the third chapter and sixteenth verse in each book and see what we find. Now, it should be noted that “3:16” is not a magic code. The books of the Bible were written as individual documents and letters, only to have chapter and verse notations added after for our reference purposes. 3:16 will be the guide we choose for this particular quest.”

“Genesis 3:16 is one piece in the first story we read when we open the Word. Almighty God has masterfully created an entire universe and then concentrated His efforts on planet Earth. He carefully crafted sky and sea, mountain and tree, and creatures beyond imagination. Then it was time for His most precious creation – human beings – specifically, a man named Adam and a woman named Eve.

The devil, as a serpent, offered Eve the very fruit that God previously told His children to avoid. After brief hesitation, Eve decided that the serpent was on to something. She took the fruit and shared it with a willing Adam. There was no avoiding the consequence of sin.

Jump back to Genesis 3:16: “To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very sever; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’” Where is God’s love in these harsh words to Eve? We must remember the subtle differences between punishment and discipline. Punishment seeks to somehow even a score, answering a negative action with another equally bleak negative action. Discipline allows for necessary consequences, but it makes way for growth and redemption. Relationships are damaged by punishment, but they mature through discipline.

On the surface, the curse of Genesis 3:16 appears to be nothing but pain and suffering. Yet, it is rooted in the care of a loving God who refused to cast aside His daughter, Eve, despite her disobedience.
We know for certain that the Lord disciplines His children because He loves them. He loved Eve. He loved Adam. And He loves you.”

***

“’For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice’ (James 3:16). A heart focused on self is toxic. We have only so much energy and effort available to us, and if we focus it all on ourselves, little to nothing is left for others and God. Few things are more destructive to our souls than selfishness. God knows this and will not tolerate anything that is harmful to His children.

Envy is another beast that needs to be tamed. If we allow jealousy to consume us, it will destroy us from the inside out. It transforms our hearts from caring for our neighbor to viewing our neighbor as a competitor.

Because God loves us, He wants to protect us from the toxins of envy and selfish ambition. First, He calls attention to the problem with Scriptures like James 3:16 and Romans 2:8. Once we recognize that our heart is poisoned by selfishness and envy, we are moved to do something about it. We must reach out beyond ourselves to the One who is able to break that cycle and bring us into freedom.

God lovingly designed this world and our existence. His gifts are good and for our benefit. He is not about to allow even one of His precious children to waste away in the desert of selfish ambition and envy. He loves us far too much for that.”

***

“So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). The Laodiceans thought they were rich but didn’t realize they were in poor shape. They needed to return to the Lord once more. Jesus reminded them that He disciplines those He love and that He is figuratively standing at their door and knocking. He was available to them, but they needed to welcome Him into their church and into their hearts again.

Throughout time, God has gone to extreme lengths to actively love His people. He is a passionate God. When His love fills the hearts of His dear children, we display His zeal in our own lives. Enthusiastic, exuberant love spills over onto everyone we encounter. It is not like any earthly love and is immediately recognized by anyone who experiences it. The Laodiceans were missing this love, and many of us miss it as well. It wasn’t too late for them to turn back to it, and it’s not too late for us. When we ask the Lord to pour out His fiery love on us, He is happy to fulfill our need. When we ask for anything in the name of Jesus, the Lord will provide. The passionate love of God is intended to overwhelm us, and it is limitless. Like a blazing fire, we are consumed by love. It is a love that cannot be tamed and a love that will satisfy our deepest longing as we constantly cry out for more. A love so extreme is beyond accurate description, but we can know it intimately. It is alive and crashing over us like unrelenting ocean waves.”

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During these trying times, we need remember who we serve. We serve a God of second chances, a God of restoration, a God of forgiveness and peace, a God who disciplines those He loves for their benefit and growth, and most importantly, a God of love. If we are to be imitators of Christ, then we need to have a character like His. We can do this by accepting His peace in the place of the fear the world tries to tie us down with, by forgiving even when we feel wronged, and by accepting God’s love so that we, in turn, can show that same love to our neighbor instead of putting them down when their views or ideas are different than ours. We need to remember the other three sixteens in the Bible and how they show the love and mercy of God. Then, as Melinda Fugate states in the closing remarks of her book, we can “rest in the promise of His love that is faithful from generation to generation. Amen.”

To learn more about Malinda and The Other Three Sixteens, visit HERE.

Social Justice Goes to Church: The New Left in Modern American Evangelicalism | Book Review

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Social Justice Goes to Church:
The New Left in Modern American Evangelicalism

(Ambassador International, Belfast, 2020)

Jonathan Harris

Reviewed by Colin R Reeves

The idea1 of ‘Social Justice’ has been creeping into the evangelical church for some years, although many believers were probably unaware of it. Even many pastors in the UK may not have seen it as a significant threat. But with the rise of ‘Black Lives Matter’ in 2020, we are now saturated with it. Christians are becoming ‘woke’ in the UK2, if not yet as much as in the USA. A narrative based on ‘critical theory’ has taken hold, especially in the area of ‘race’ although feminism, LGBT and transgenderism are coming down the tracks.

How did this happen? Jon Harris has studied this phenomenon3 for several years, having come across it while a student at Southeastern Baptist Seminary. There he found lecturers emphasizing categories taken from critical theory: the fundamental idea being to divide people into two groups based on power relationships; you are either a power-less ‘victim’ or a power-full ‘oppressor.’ These categories do not depend on actual sins of oppression, or actual victimization; rather they are based on group identity—black people, women, homosexuals are victims; white people, men, ‘straight’ people are oppressors. On this basis, terms such as ‘systemic racism’, ‘white privilege’, ‘standpoint epistemology’ have become embedded in our culture, and are now making headway in the church4. Rather than viewing culture through the lens of biblical categories, ‘woke’ leaders now apply secular categories to the Scriptures.

As a historian, Harris knew that a similar emphasis had arisen in evangelicalism in the 1970s, before apparently fading away. I am old enough to remember when books by Ron Sider and Jim Wallis were popular. Harris shows that it did not go away, and he traces the way in which some in the next generation of evangelicals quietly absorbed the message of social concern as defining the gospel. Moreover, the social action promoted was not the older idea defined by the Lausanne Covenant of 1974, but was taken from critical theory—a blend of the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School with post-modernism. More central social concerns of the 1970s, especially abortion, were largely ignored.

One of the key personalities in this ‘progressive’ evangelicalism, besides Sider and Wallis, whose Sojourners magazine carried the post-1970s torch, was Richard Mouw (Fuller Seminary), who sought to provide their ideas with a theological underpinning. Harris provides a clear analysis of his thought and influences. But the revival of progressivism in the early 2000s owes most to Timothy Keller. His book Generous Justice (Penguin, 2012) was a milestone in the introduction of what are now called ‘woke’ ideas into mainstream evangelicalism.

That book has not been without its critics, both for its re-definition of what the Bible means by justice, and for his misuse of a famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards. But Harris’s Appendix, devoted solely to Dr Keller, discusses his influences, starting from the cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School, and moving on to progressives like Mouw, Sider, Wallis and John Perkins, and post-modern thinkers like Foucault. He then shows Keller’s development through acceptance of systemic injustice and white privilege, documenting this from his sermons. Keller’s big idea all along has been to ground Marxist solutions on a biblical basis; unfortunately the Marxist house is incompatible with the biblical foundation.

Harris reports all this largely without comment—in fact, the book as a whole is dispassionately written; his aim is to describe the different streams of thought that have brought evangelicalism to a state where (apart from a significant movement of the Holy Spirit) a separation of ‘woke’ and ‘unwoke’ leaders and churches is becoming likelier by the week. Harris’s own views on these developments are clear from his video channel, but here he is content to act as the historical reporter and leave the drawing of conclusions to the reader. As such, it is highly recommended to elders and concerned laypeople alike.

I had several reactions of my own, which could fill pages! I will confine them to a few comments on what is exemplified by Tim Keller, since he is the most well-known of these names. He is also one whose writings have benefitted many people (including myself), and I know of people who have been saved by reading The Reason for God or The Prodigal God. But Harris’s “deep dive” into his works has raised some important issues.

Firstly, his fascination with Marxism: according to Harris, Keller believes that Karl Marx was the only “major thinker,” other than God Himself, with a high view of labour. This is astonishing! Marx was a notorious workshy free-loader; surely Dr Keller is aware of the stress laid by both Luther and Calvin on the dignity of work—a view that goes back at least to St Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century, and, of course, to the apostle Paul.

Then there is Keller’s unsettling view of truth is; not as objective, but (with the post-modern thinkers) as a means to power, while agreeing with the idea that has become known as ‘standpoint epistemology’—the notion that certain ‘oppressed’ groups (e.g., black people, homosexuals) have insights into ‘truth’ that oppressors do not. The black preacher Voddie Baucham calls this “ethnic gnosticism.” In theory, Keller does not hold this view himself, rather he argues for Christianity as a third way: progressives and conservatives both have some things right, so Christians need to carry out a sort of triangulation.

But the Frankfurt ideology he admired as a young man keeps surfacing, particularly in his way of understanding Scripture. Thus the “central story of the Old Testament is liberation of slaves from captivity;” while the “storyline of the whole Bible is God’s repeated identification with the wretched, powerless, and marginalized.” Really? How about “God glorifying His Son by redeeming a people for Himself”?

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Keller’s adoption of critical theoretic categories is his application of them to the work of Christ. He speaks of the Incarnation in ‘Social Justice’ terms: Jesus laid aside his ‘power and privilege’ to suffer ‘oppression’ at the hands of ‘elites’. Using CRT categories and vocabulary is a problem in itself, but he goes on to apply them to the Cross:

through endurance of violence and human injustice he paid the rightful penalty of humanity’s sin to divine justice.

This should sound alarm bells. What is meant by through endurance…? It could be no more than the fact that Jesus was crucified at the hands of men (Acts 2:23). But it sounds as if the human violence and injustice was the instrument whereby the penalty for sin was paid. That injustice, however, was not the rightful penalty for our sins; rather, it was the wrath of God. As Turretin remarks, the sorrow and agony of soul that Jesus felt in Gethsemane was not caused by the fear of what men would do, but the prospect of being made sin for us, of facing God the Father’s “avenging justice” as our substitute. Why invoke power dynamics rather than the traditional biblical categories of atonement?

It is becoming increasingly clear that ‘Social Justice’ is a different religion, and I commend a thoughtful study of Jon Harris’s book as a means to understanding this religion, and how it differs from Christianity.

Learn more about Social Justice Goes to Church.

Notes:
1 There is nothing unbiblical about social justice, as generally understood in the past: applying the norms of biblical justice within society; see the Dallas Statement at https://statementonsocialjustice.com/. ‘Social Justice’ (in quotes, upper case S and J) is used here to denote the secular version based on critical theory.

2 See the report on the AberLite conference in the October 2020 issue of Evangelical Times.

3 See the extensive archive of podcasts at https://www.socialjusticegoestochurch.com/archives/

4 Ben Lindsay’s book We Need to Talk About Race (SPCK, 2019), highly recommended in some quarters, is a prime example of how these unbiblical ideas are getting into evangelicalism.

Fire & Life Safety Instructor Releases New Children’s Book in Safety Series

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In the first book in her new children’s series, Fraidy Brady and the First Field Trip, fire and life safety instructor Maria Bostian addresses the fears that many young children might have on their first field trip.

“Most kittens were curious. Most kittens were downright nosey. Most kittens loved to go to new places and do new things. But not Brady! Everything new seemed to make him anxious. He was different. All the kittens knew him as Fraidy Brady,” writes Bostian, focusing on the feelings that many kids have when experiencing the unknown.

Through the eyes of a literal scaredy cat, Bostian walks kids through many possible scenarios that could happen on a field trip. Drawing from her own knowledge as a fire and life safety instructor, Bostian gives tips on how to handle strangers, what to do if you get lost, and how to identify safe adults. She even includes a quick guide at the back of the book to remind children of the “Stranger Safety Tips” she mentions throughout the book.

Parents and children will enjoy reading the light-hearted story together, but it’s also a great opportunity for parents to talk to their children about safety and what to do in scary situations.

The Truth Will Set You Free

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From our Publisher’s Desk
In a world full of white lies, fibs, exaggeration, near truths, and stretching of the truth, it can be hard to know what is fact and what is fiction. In the past few months, we can see this firsthand if we look closely at our politicians, media, and especially posts and pictures on Facebook from those we know. Everyone wants that picture perfect family appearance, that impeccable dinner picture, that cause worth sharing, and that Instagram worthy outfit and pose to photograph. In fact, that is all we see. Life is filtered through a camera lens so that only the perfect moment is captured, while the tantrums, tears, trials, and hard work are left off camera…behind the scenes. This filtered, idealistic living is so prevalent in today’s culture that it is hard to know who, and what, to believe.
   Christine Paxson and Rosemary Spiller address the fact that the Bible has all the answers, not just for the past, but for present circumstances as well in their book and study guide, No Half-Truths Allowed: Understanding the Complete Gospel Message. It is important that, as believers, we know the truths found within God’s Word so that we can share those truths with others and not get caught up in what society thinks of us and how they perceive us. They explore what Jesus has done for you and me. With society’s ever-changing cultural standards, we have to be rooted in the truth… God’s truth. We have to let Him reign in our hearts and lives so that we can bring glory back to Him by not compromising what is right and true, by reflecting that truth in and through our lives. We can do this by standing up and saying, “No more half-truths are allowed in my life!”
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    “A person’s experience with the Gospel can be a lot like quilting. The beauty and seemingly simplistic message of the grace and love of God displayed in His only Son dying for us can draw our longing hearts in like moths to a flame, but if we do not take the time to study and understand the full message of the Gospel, we are selling ourselves – and God – short. The Gospel is the Word of God and the main message of the entire Bible. It is the saving power of God! Its power is not contained in the eloquence of the messenger, but in the message itself. That is why we need to get it right.”
“Most of us have asked basic, fundamental questions about the Gospel – and others like them – and have had them run through our heads at one time or another. For some of us, the Bible has been taught in a way that makes us believe many things are right. For others, culture, other religions’ ideas, and even TV commercials have planted ideas firmly in our minds. But we need to know what the Bible says about [the questions we have]. Remember, the goal for this book is to make sure that by the end, you have a clear understanding of what the full Gospel message is – not only for yourself, but also so that when you share it with others, they fully understand what they are either accepting or rejecting.”
“The bottom line is, if we emphasize that God is remaking or renewing the world but do not include how He is redeeming people to be in it, we have not proclaimed the Good News to them. We have left them ignorant of the saving message of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Why does the Church, the Bride of Christ, want to shove sin, and death, and the glorious message of the cross out of our vocabulary? Have we tried to become too relevant? Are people so self-centered that even the Church has to make their focus all about people and no longer God? Is it because our good deeds make us feel good about ourselves, but we find it hard to bring up the Gospel to someone? Are we believing some of these half-truths ourselves? Are we more intent on what God can do for us than we are about studying His Word? Is it because we just don’t know any better? Christian, it’s time for that examination, and we start with the question to ourselves, ‘Am I really a Christian?’
If you are a Christian, as we’ve described over and over again in this book, then the next questions should be, ‘Am I sharing the whole Gospel message?’ ‘Is my church sharing the whole Gospel message?’ If not, then what do we do about it?
Let’s make it our aim to glorify God by taking the message of the cross and making it central to everything else. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).” (Text taken from No Half-Truths Allowed book)
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    “As God’s chosen people, we need to make sure we are doing what we were created to do – glorify Him and enjoy Him forever! To do that, we need to know His Word, and we need to follow it. We need to spread the Gospel message, and we need to do it correctly! Will it be easy? Sometimes. Will it be hard? Sometimes. But it needs to be done. Therefore, let’s make it our aim to glorify God by taking the message of the cross and making it central to everything else.” (Text taken from No Half-Truths Allowed study guide)
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    When we are tempted to get caught up in making our lives look perfect over Facebook or Instagram, or when we are unsure what to believe about our friends, neighbors, leaders, pastors, or politicians, let’s try to remember that we live in a fallen world, and no one is perfect. Let’s try to focus on showing our reality, and not a watered-down version of it. But most importantly, let us remember that  we are here to glorify God and help lead others to do the same. Be an example to those around you, don’t compromise, and don’t settle for sharing any half-truths!

To learn more about Christine and Rose and No Half-Truths Allowed, visit HERE.

 

NFPA Names Maria Bostian 2020 Educator of the Year!

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Ambassador International congratulates Maria Bostian of the Kannapolis Fire Department who has been selected as the NFPA 2020 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year. Bostian has 21 years of experience delivering fire and life safety to her community through presentations to varied audiences, a robust Fire Prevention Week campaign, and an ongoing social media initiative.

Maria is also the author of Firefighters’ Busy Day! released by Ambassador International in 2016. Fire safety education is essential for children, and Firefighters’ Busy Day! presents a fun, interactive resource book to teach children about the responsibilities of firefighters!

In her upcoming series, the Fraidy Brady series, Maria has written resources to give educators, parents, caregivers, and those working with children an opportunity to start genuine conversations with the young children in their lives. The first book Fraidy Brady and the First Field Trip, set to release August 4, 2020, is an opportunity to introduce stranger safety and awareness in a gentle manner. Book two, Fraidy Brady and the Fire Station, is a resource to  introduce firefighters, true heroes in their community, to young children.

Read the National Fire Protection Association announcement HERE.

Transformed Thinking: A Defense of the Christian Worldview

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Dr. Tom Wheeler grew up in a pastor’s home and received Christ as Lord and Savior as a child. He attended Christian college and then completed a Ph.D. in theology. He taught Bible and theology classes for a number of years in a Bible College and seminary and taught Bible classes in a Christian high school for a few years.

In his new book, Transformed Thinking: A Defense of the Christian Worldview, Dr. Tom Wheeler clearly lays out the most fundamental beliefs of Christianity and compares them to other worldviews, providing arguments to support his beliefs. Even though this book is purposed for the classroom setting, it would be a beneficial read for any believer who wants to have a firm foundation on which to share their beliefs with unbelievers.

From the beginning of the world to the inerrancy of Scripture, Transformed Thinking will provide you with solid answers for your faith because in today’s world of varying religions, it’s becoming more and more important for a Christian to know what they believe and why they believe it.

Now available in King James Version and English Standard Version editions.

Transformed Thinking

Transformed Thinking

Will You Chicken IN?

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From our Publisher’s Desk

  I believe we can all agree that the past two months have not gone as any of us anticipated this year would. It feels as though there is no escape from the constant battering of news, safety updates, and personal social distancing requirements. The good news is that as believers in Christ, we do have an escape, a refuge from the storms of life, and a constant peace in times of trial. God is our strength and salvation, so we do not have to fear the unknown. He has a plan to work all things for good in our lives, even things that the enemy tries to use to come against us.
  Life has become much simpler. There has been much more time spent with family and/or resting. We have been forced to slow down and change our pace. But instead of looking at our current circumstances as devastating, we should take the extra time we have been given to focus on what is truly important in life: building strong relationships with family, friends, and those around us, encouraging them in their walk with Christ, and for those who do not have a relationship with Him, to continually point them to God and to show His love. Let us use this time to better ourselves and grow spiritually.
JJ Gutierrez talks about building a life of faith instead of fear in her book entitled Chickening IN. She examines how things around us may be scary, due to the unknown, but if we have a relationship with God, we can have a courageous faith.
Although, we may be living in unpredictable and uncontrollable times, we can defeat feelings of fear, doubt, and anxiety by reconstructing them into faith in God and His promises, by stepping into the calling that God has placed on each of our lives, and by not backing down or chickening out.

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   “The Bible is full of examples of people who acted upon God’s word in faith. They couldn’t see the end result, but without action they were sure not to arrive at the destination. This is the key difference between the stuck and the unstuck, being trapped in a broken, discouraged life or being transformed into a new life of healing, joy, and wholeness. The key is action.”

“During times of fear, self-preservation, and retreat, we often need someone to speak encouragement into our lives – a friend, mentor, or coach – someone to wake us up, to shake us up. That’s exactly what Mordecai did for Queen Esther when he spoke these wise and powerful words, “What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)? This is the most well-known verse in the book of Esther and for good reason. Esther was in a position of influence unlike anyone else. Her identity as a Jew had been concealed. She was beautiful and found favor with the king. She had learned the customs of the palace and understood how to behave in her new culture. What appeared to be many coincidences was actually God’s providence for the Jewish people – Esther was positioned for this moment.
Have you ever experienced being positioned well and you knew it was your time to execute? It was as if God prepared you all along through your past, your resources, and your relationships lining up, and what seemed disconnected was coming together for a single purpose.”

“Taking risks, living with courage, and following God will most likely lead to unfamiliar roads. There are many kinds of unknown roads. Think of them not just as physical places, but mental, emotional, and spiritual places you’ve never been. Most often they will steer us to climb steep mountains, cross desert plains, sail uncharted oceans, or soar to new heights. If we are willing to travel these unknown roads, we will be challenged by our fears and doubts, and we may be temped to turn back. However, if we refuse to give in to the fear bully, we might discover something new and amazing about ourselves, God, and life.”

“Over and over God invites us to have courageous faith. In fact, there are more than 300 Bible verses commanding us to fear not, don’t be afraid, or to have courage. Christine Caine says in her book Undaunted, “He knew that we would be afraid, that we would doubt. That’s why He tells us again and again in the Bible, ‘Fear not.’” Maybe that’s why God dedicates a chunk of Scripture to encouraging us to be brave – He knew we would need reassurance and support not just once, but on an ongoing basis. However, in order be strengthened by God’s Word, we have to know it. We must study and learn the Scriptures to become the courageous and fearless women [and men] we desire to be.”

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These past two months have been extremely trying for everyone regardless of age, ethnicity, or status. We have all experienced many of the same feelings and emotions. We have fought back fear of the unknown, worry of what tomorrow will hold in store, and the crushing disappointment of a lost job, trip, etc. But we can all stand to learn a powerful lesson from JJ Gutierrez’s book, Chickening IN. We can still have faith in God and His Sovereign plan for us. We can still be obedient to Matthew 6:34 when it tells us, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And most of all, we can be courageous in our walk with God and grow in His likeness during these times by being obedient to Him. We can’t let fear hold us back from living to the full potential for which God has created and called us. Now, more than ever, is the time to step out of fear and into a courageous faith. We need to start Chickening IN.

To learn more about JJ and Chickening IN, visit HERE.