Category Archives: Christian Life

National Random Acts of Kindness Day: 10 Ways to Get Involved

10 ways to communicate kindness to those around you today.

10 ways to communicate kindness to those around you today.

Happy National Random Acts of Kindness Day! We’re all about a holiday that encourages us to show compassion just as Paul did in Ephesians 4:32 NIV: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Here are 10 ways to communicate kindness to those around you today.

1. Call Your Family
Pick up the phone and call someone you don’t regularly talk to. Ask them about their day and let them know that you love them.

2. Sponsor A Child
By sponsoring a child through World Vision, you’ll help that child and their community experience freedom from poverty.

3. Smile At A Stranger
Spread the joy of the Lord by smiling at someone while you’re out running errands—it’s contagious!

4. Make A Donation
Clean out your home, and donate gently used clothes, books, board games, kitchenware and anything else you no longer need.

5. Send A Card
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to show someone that you care. Write a handwritten note of encouragement in a greeting card.

6. Pay It Forward
Literally—pay for someone’s meal or buy two cups of coffee in the morning and give one away.

7. Give Directions
If you see someone who looks lost, stop and ask them if they need help. Even if they don’t, they’ll be thankful and inspired by your thoughtfulness.

8. Leave An Encouraging Reminder
Keep sticky notes on hand and write down some Bible verses or messages letting people know that God loves them. Leave them in public restrooms, at the gas pump or anywhere else strangers may see them.

9. Volunteer
Find a local charity or ask your church how you can help by volunteering your time or talents.

10. Say A Prayer
Spend some time praying for healing, wisdom, loved ones’ prayer requests and anything else God puts on your heart.

Looking to for more ways to be a light in the world? Our February Own Your Faith Challenge is all about showing the love of Christ—and you still have time to join us!

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5 Simple Ways to Love Your Spouse

Create and sustain a healthy marriage by loving your spouse well.

Life is busy. Between carting the around kids and keeping up with a calendar full of commitments, we sometimes forget about the responsibilities that don’t get penciled into our planners. But God calls us to honor Him in all areas of our lives—and our marriages are no exception. Here are five ways to help you create and sustain a healthy marriage by loving your spouse well.

Compliment Their Character
Instead of commenting on the way they look, build them up with a compliment that focuses on the way they handle conflict, their work ethic or their trustworthiness. This type of compliment shows both love and respect to your spouse.

Give Them Your Undivided Attention
Surprise your significant other by making sitter arrangements for the kids and spend the night cooking a meal together or snuggling up and watching a movie. Taking care of any distractions in advance will show them that you’re interested in focusing on their needs.

Hold Their Hand
Show them affection during the most ordinary moments. Grab their hand while you’re grocery shopping or walk up to them in a crowded room and give them a hug. Showing physical affection in small ways, when they least expect it, will speak volumes.

Give Them A Gift
Stop by the store on your way home or order their favorite gifts, just because. These sweet surprises let your loved one know that they’re on your mind. Make sure they don’t feel like it takes a special occasion for them to be appreciated.

Take Care of the Honey-Do List
Is there an unfinished task that has been weighing on your spouse—maybe a closet that needs to be organized or yard work they haven’t gotten to? Remove that burden from their shoulders by taking care of it for them.

Keep your relationship thriving amid the demands and conflicts of everyday life by understanding The 5 Love Languages that define how men and women give and receive love. The 5 Love Languages books are all 40% off now through Valentine’s Day.

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7 Ways to Pursue Spiritual Growth in 2017

Prayerfully reflect on the year that has passed and ask God to guide you in the year to come.

Physical fitness, wholesome nutrition, quality sleep – chances are you’re hoping to improve at least one area of your health in 2017. But what about your spiritual wellbeing? As you get ready to ring in the New Year, take some time to prayerfully reflect on the year that has passed and ask God to guide you in the year to come.

Focus on Prayer
Prayer is a powerful and essential part of spiritual growth. Set yourself up for success by laying your goals down at God’s feet and relying on Him for strength. If prayer has felt more like a burden than a blessing lately, energize your prayer life with these four tips.

Get Into God’s Word
If you’re resolving to read the Bible this year, The One-Year Bible will help you stay on track with daily readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the book of Psalms and Proverbs. Maybe you’re just getting started on your walk with God or picking up a Bible for the first time. Get into the Word and begin to better understand the Gospel with these Bible study tips.

Be Thankful
When we flood our minds and hearts with everything we want to change, it can be easy for the goodness of God to escape us. While we certainly need to pray for our needs and the needs of others, it’s important to intentionally thank God for all the good He is doing in our lives. Cultivate a spirit of joy by focusing on your blessings not your burdens.

Consider a Second Bible
If you read your Bible book by book, try a chronological Bible. If you typically take notes in a separate journal, experiment with a journaling Bible. Supplementing your daily reading with a second Bible can help bring clarity to God’s Word.

Commit to a Daily Devotional
Whether you’re diving into your faith for the first time or you’ve been connecting with God for years, these devotionals will keep you encouraged. Focus your heart on God’s faithfulness with 8 daily devotional books that will strengthen your faith in 2017.

Join a Small Group
Faith flourishes in the presence of community. Consider joining a small group or a Bible study at your church or identify a spiritual mentor who can lovingly challenge you to grow. Surround yourself with believers you can learn from.

Put Your Faith Into Action
As Christians, we are called to serve. Be the hands and feet of Christ by volunteering through your church or another organization in your community. Serving can also be a great way to spend time growing together as a family.

We hope you feel encouraged and equipped to make spiritual growth a priority in the New Year.

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A Season of Joy: Jesus Christ is Born

Keep Christ at the center of your family’s Christmas celebration by reflecting on the birth of Jesus.

With Christmas quickly approaching, stress levels are at an all time high and to do lists are longer than ever. Keep your family focused on the reason for the season by reflecting on the birth of our Lord and Savior.

The Christmas Story: Luke 2:1-20 NLT

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

The great news from an angel of the Lord filled the shepherds living nearby with absolute joy. The most amazing event in history had happened — the Messiah had been born! With Jesus’ birth came hope for the entire world, hope we continue to believe in today. We encourage you to look toward Christ’s second coming with a joyful spirit and a hopeful heart.

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4 Ways to Energize Your Prayer Life

Has prayer become yet another item on your busy to do list? If we’re honest, we’ve probably all felt this way at times. As humans, it can be easy to get swept up in the demands, distractions and disappointments of this world. But as Christians, we know that prayer is a powerful and essential part of our spiritual walk. If prayer feels like a burden instead of a blessing, these tips will help you get excited about spending time in prayer.

Be Thankful
When our prayers are a laundry list of all the things we want to change, we’re not likely to approach the throne of grace with excitement. We certainly need to pray for our needs and the needs of others, but let’s remember to thank God for all the good He is doing in our lives.

Rework Your Routine
Prayer should be a regular part of our life, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it at the same time, in the same way, at the same place. If you normally pray in your living room, try going for a walk. If you normally use a prayer journal, try praying verses in the Bible. Don’t be afraid to change it up!

Learn To Listen
Relationships are a two-way street and our relationship with God is no exception. We often develop a pattern of listing off our needs without pausing to hear from God. It’s important to sit silently in God’s presence and simply listen.

Pray Without Ceasing
Don’t compartmentalize your prayer life. God’s door is always open which means we have the opportunity to present our requests to Him all day long, not just during our designated prayer time. Say short prayers during those busy moments in life, then go back and pray more in depth when the events of the day have settled.

God never intended prayer to be dull, mundane or boring. We hope these tips inspire you to approach your prayer time with a joyful spirit and a hopeful heart.

What tips have helped you improve your prayer life?

What Is It About Small Children?

Have you noticed the super powers small children wield?

I was riding the NYC subway one morning, when the doors opened and into the car walked a little child.

She was maybe 2.

Instantly, all of us—these defended New Yorkers, all avoiding eye contact, all guarding our space—were transformed. We smiled at her. At her mother. At each other.

Her gentleness disarmed us. Barriers of race and age and status vanished.

She changed everything.

When people asked Jesus, “Who’s the greatest in your Kingdom?” Jesus showed them a little child and said, “Become like this little child.”

It’s not always all about what we teach children.

It’s about what they teach us.

I’ve learned that from writing for children. Writing for children keeps you honest. You have to dig deeper. Work harder. Understand it better. Your job is to distill—to take the profound and make it simple enough for a child to understand.

When I was writing THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE, I couldn’t rely on jargon. A little child has no concept of what sin is, for instance. I had to find other ways to describe it. I wrote that: sin is not just about breaking the rules, it’s breaking God’s heart; it’s like poison that makes your heart sick and stops it from working properly; it’s like running away from God and hiding in the shadows.

Writing for children demands nothing short of excellence.

The funny thing is—if you write with the excellence that children deserve you reach everyone. C S Lewis said: “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”

Excellence, it turns out, is the most inclusive thing.

THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE has broken out of the boundaries typical for a children’s bible storybook—read by college students, theologians, pastors, couples; read in schools, prisons, old people’s homes. (It’s so popular with adults that we have published their own edition: THE STORY OF GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU.)

I think it has something to do with that place inside of us all that remains a child still, the place God loves to speak to us—the place where we are undefended, humble, open to wonder. Open him. The place that tiny child spoke to us all, in that NYC subway car that morning.

In THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE I captured the plotline of the Bible. As adults when do we ever hear that plotline? Even if we go to church regularly, we may never hear the whole story in one sitting.

But when you distill the story down so that you can read it in one sitting, immediately it is startling. Because most of us think we know what the Bible is about—and it’s not good. We think it’s a book of rules you follow so God will love you. Or a book of heroes you copy so God will love you.

But it’s none of those things.

It’s most of all a Story.

The Story Of a God who breaks into History and comes down to rescue his children. A God who moves heaven and earth to be near them, to love them—though it would cost him everything.

The Story of a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. The Story of a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne—everything—to rescue the one he loves.

The Bible is simply this: THE STORY OF GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU.

And I don’t know anyone—young or old—who doesn’t need to hear that story.

Sally Lloyd-Jones is a New York Times bestselling author whose books include: Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing, a children’s devotional which won the ECPA Christian Book of The Year award in adult inspiration, and The Jesus Storybook Bible, now available in a format for adults with a new design and title, The Story of God’s Love for You. Sally also has a new picture book coming this spring, Baby Wren and the Great Gift.

Introducing Widow Connection

In 2006, Miriam Neff became a widow after her husband, Bob, lost his battle to ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Shortly thereafter, she sought out resources that could provide her with advice for dealing with grief and her new financial situation. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find a comprehensive book for widows with a spiritual perspective.

On the seven-month anniversary of Bob’s death, she was in Burkina Faso, Africa teaching a group of widows who were hungry to hear the Word. That evening in her hotel room, she knew God was calling her to serve widows and their children.

That was when Widow Connection was born.

Today, Miriam is educating and encouraging widows all over the world through her:

Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Miriam, her daughter and even one of the widows she has connected with and helped.

We had a wonderful time getting to know her and her story. She is extremely passionate about serving widows in need. One such case was that of Lori Fox-Ritter, a widow who connected with Miriam after reading her book. After reading the first few pages, Lori learned that Miriam’s husband also passed away from ALS—and four years to the day earlier than her husband, Eric.

Next month, we’ll dive deeper into the past, present and future of Widow Connection, as well as share the rest of Lori’s story with you.

Stay tuned!

A Distant Shore by Levi Lusko

Her pink bike is in the garage with her helmet hung by its strap from one of the handlebars. It has white-walled tires. Just like mine. Every time I walk by it I take a deep breath in and let it out slowly as I think about how spring will come and the snow will melt and we will go on family bike rides in the evenings, but her bike will stay parked in that spot. Her helmet will stay there too, dangling from the handlebars. Lenya will not ride that bike again. Eventually Daisy will use it and then Clover, but not Lenya. Not ever.

She isn’t going to play with her toys anymore. Neither will she wear any of her dresses or other clothes that are hanging in her closet and folded in her drawers. She used to transform all the pieces from this wardrobe into three or four wild and wonderful outfits, and as many messy piles on the floor by lunchtime each day. Her room is far too clean and tidy now. Everything stays as we put it. Her Jesus jar is empty because she brought her tithe to church the weekend before she left us, but the money she saved up in her “spend” jar will not be spent by her.

I know this all to be true because my daughter has gone to heaven. She is on a distant shore. Though we can’t see her she is near. Heaven can’t be that far away because when you leave this earth you are able to be instantly with the Lord. At most it is a day’s journey away because Jesus promised the thief on the cross that, “today you will be with Me in paradise,” and when He said that they had already been on the cross for hours. Maybe it’s extremely close, just unseen to us presently. Doesn’t that seem to be how Stephen makes it sound, in the book of Acts, when, in his final moments, he gave us a description of of glory that seemed to appear before his eyes right before he died? I wonder, and long to find out. Perhaps if we knew how close Heaven was we would be more motivated by it and live to fill it more ardently than we do.

In Lenya’s final moments on earth her mother’s voice was in her ears and she was held by her father’s hands. Those were frantic, desperate and frightening minutes to us as we sought to keep her here through CPR. God chose instead to bring her to His country. A place without sin or pain or fear. No, she can’t ride her pink bike on the cracked pavement of this tired world any longer, but I don’t suspect that brings her much concern as she swims with dolphins or rides down the beach on a horse with a tropical wind whipping her hair up behind her. Or maybe it’s a unicorn. If she has the option I guarantee you she is picking the unicorn.

It is true that Lenya died. It is also true that she is more alive today than she has ever been. More alive than me. I take great joy in thinking about the fact that she is in a place without death. We had to attend her funeral but she did not. She never attended one in her life and she never will. She is in the land of the living.

What anchors us in this storm of our separation from her is the promise that she is with Him and He is in us. The more we are filled with His Spirit the greater our connection to her grows. I would lose heart if I did not believe that I will see the Lord. But I do. Someday soon my ship will set sail for the distant shores of that perfect place, where Lenya lives and laughs and plays, and I will finally be Home.

——

Levi Lusko is the pastor of Fresh Life Church in Montana, as well as the author of Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power.

Through the Eyes of a LionIn it, Lusko tells the story of how he lost his daughter, Lenya, but not in the form of a manual for grieving. Instead, he provides a manifesto for high-octane living, and teaches you to turn your journey into a “roar story.”

Whether you’re currently facing adversity or want to prepare yourself for inevitable hardship, it’s time to look at the adventure of your life through Jesus’ eyes—the eyes of a Lion.

Head over to the product page for more info and to read a sample chapter >

The Comeback: Louie Giglio’s Favorite Chapters

We all know what it is like to have life disappoint us. That feeling when things do not work out as we’d hoped. And we all know what it is like to long for something different, something better or something more.

But your current circumstances do not get the final say in your life.

This is what The Comeback is all about—providing you with perspective and encouragement, no matter the challenge you’re facing.

In the book, author Louie Giglio celebrates new beginnings. From personal stories to Bible stories, he shows how God is in the business of giving fresh starts, and how His plans always prevail, even when ours don’t.

Check out Giglio’s three favorite chapters now:


Get your copy today!

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Whatever we do, we must keep God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all of our actions.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Much like his namesake, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a reformer. But rather than facing off against the Roman Catholic Church, he fought as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

Martin Luther King, Jr. TalkingIn 1953, at the ripe age of 25, the newly married King and his bride Coretta moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where he became the minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

Two years later, Rosa Parks, also of Montgomery, was arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus, and the Civil Rights Movement began.

Local pastors created the Montgomery Improvement Association, elected King as president and brought together the black community to establish a citywide bus boycott.

A year later, bus discrimination ended and he became a nationally-known figure.

Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s life and Henry David Thoreau’s On Civil Disobedience, King led the MIA, and the movement as a whole, as a nonviolent activist. Even after his home was bombed, he refused to allow the people guarding his home to carry guns.

And when he almost died from a stab wound, he “became convinced that if the movement held to the spirit of nonviolence, our struggle and example would challenge and help redeem not only America but the world.”

Even as he was speaking and leading nonviolent protests, King continued serving as a minister. Sometimes in his sermons he would incorporate political topics and during his public speeches, he would often incorporate biblical themes. This is because he didn’t see his civil rights involvement as separate from his ministry.

“The Christian gospel is a two-way road. On the one hand, it seeks to change the souls of men, and thereby unite them with God; on the other hand, it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men so the soul will have a chance after it is changed.”

Next Monday, January 18, we remember all that Martin Luther King, Jr. did for his community, his country and the world.

We honor his courage and his steadfast faith, even in the face of constant danger.

And we can learn from his example by “keeping God at the forefront.”