Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
I don't know if you do much shopping online, but you couldn't pay me to go to a mall in December. Or in just about any other month.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Week Eleven: Can we ever be just like God?
Have you ever been around someone with a cold? You might see someone with a red nose, watery eyes, and a wadded up tissue in his hand. You can tell he’s sick just by looking at him. When he comes toward you, what do you want to do? Run! Why? Because you could catch his cold. Colds are contagious. So are measles, mumps, and bad attitudes.
Another word for “contagious” is “communicable.” Germs can “communicate” or “transfer” a cold from one person to another.
When people talk about God’s character qualities, sometimes they mention his “communicable” qualities and his “incommunicable” qualities. In other words, some of God’s qualities can be passed on to us so we can be more like him. But other qualities can’t be passed on to us no matter what. Why? Because God will always be God and we will always be created beings and less than God. This “uncontagious” qualities are the things that make God . . . God.
Next week we’ll talk about his “contagious” qualities, but this week we’re going to look at qualities that belong to God and God alone. Nothing else in all of creation shares these qualities with God.
God is independent. As an infinite being, he doesn’t need anything or anyone to survive.
We like to think of ourselves as independent people, but even the most independent person needs air to breathe and food to eat. We needed parents to bring us into the world. We need shelter and clothing. When it all comes down to basics, we needed God to bring us to life. We need him in ways we can’t even imagine. Even in heaven, we will depend upon God to enjoy the eternal life he gives us.
But God doesn’t need anything or anyone. He didn’t need anyone to create him, because He has always been—in fact, he created time itself. The Bible says, “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is the Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need” (Acts 17:24-25).
Some people think God created humans because he needed us so he wouldn’t be lonely. Afraid not. God has always had the other members of the Trinity for company. And he could also talk to the angels. God did not need to create us, but he chose to so that he could delight in us. In Isaiah 43:7, God tells us, “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.”
God is unchanging and unchangeable. Don’t you love family reunions? You walk through the door and your grandma or aunt rushes over and says, “My, how you’ve grown! I wouldn’t have known you!”
Human beings change constantly. We grow quickly, and even after we stop growing, we continue to change. We learn things, so we grow smarter. Sometimes we get our hearts broken, and we grow sadder. We can get sick. We can get tired. We are constantly changing.
God, on the other hand, never changes. The Bible says, “Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them. But you are always the same; you will live forever” (Psalm 102:25-27).
God himself said, “I am the Lord, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
The good thing about serving a God who does not change is that we know he will always be there and he will always keep his promises. You can trust him.
God does not freak out. God has emotions, and the Bible tells us a lot about them. We know God rejoices, he loves, and he feels anger. But God is not driven by his emotions the way people are. He is not happy one minute and sad the next. Because he does not change, his emotions do not veer off in unexpected directions. The concept is easy to grasp if you remember this: God always loves what he loves, and he always hates what he hates.
That means he will always hate sin. But he will always love you.
God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful. He is able to do everything he is willing to do.
No human or creature is omnipotent. No human can do everything he or she wants to do. I’d like to fly, but I can’t. I’d like to be able to swim underwater without oxygen, but I can’t do that, either. I depend on God for even the air that I breathe, but God doesn’t depend on anyone or anything.
“Omnipotence” doesn’t mean that God can do anything at all. For instance, he can’t sin. He can’t tell a lie. But he can do everything he wants to do.
God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all the time. So you never have to worry about being all alone in some strange place—God is always with you. Not just a part of him, but all of him.
Look at Psalm 139:7-12: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.”
Finally, God is omniscient—he knows all things. Everything, even the secrets buried in your heart. Even the things you think no one else knows.
The smartest man or woman in the world will never be omniscient. The biggest computer in the world will never be omniscient, because it only knows what its programmers feed into it. When we get to heaven, we’re going to know a lot more than we do now, but we’ll never know everything. We’ll never be omniscient. We’ll always have the thrill and adventure of learning new things about God, about creation, and about the universe.
Memory verse: “I am the Lord, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
1. Read the following verses and talk about which godly quality each verse describes: God’s independence, unchangeableness, emotional steadiness, omniscience, omnipotence, or omnipresence.
· 1 John 3:20: “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
· Psalm 50:9-10: “But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.”
· Matthew 6:8: “Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him.”
· James 1:17: “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”
· Revelation 1:8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
· Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.”
· Psalm 139:1-2,4: “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away . . . You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.”
2. Think hard—can you think of a single human being who is truly independent? Who doesn’t need anything?
Now imagine the most powerful person in the world. How does his (or her!) power compare with God’s? Think of your favorite super hero. Are any of them truly all-powerful? (Even Superman has to deal with Kryptonite!)
3. Read Psalm 139:16: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
God has a plan for each of us. Because he is all-powerful, nothing can destroy or mess up his plan for us. How does knowing that God is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omnipresent (everywhere-present) help you to trust him more?
Next week we’ll talk about character qualities we can “pick up” from God.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
We don't have hummingbirds around here--or maybe we do, but I've never seen them--but this is a very sweet video about a boy who rescued a baby hummingbird. Take two or three minutes to enjoy--you'll be glad you did.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Made the chess pie in a DEEP dish, and it took MUCH longer to bake than I thought it would--well over an hour. And even though I used a deep dish, some of it spilled over to the bottom of the oven, where it burned and smoked up the entire house. So . . . just keep that in mind.
You may now rise up and call me blessed. :-)
If I get my work done today (I'm proofing gallies for THE FINE ART OF INSINCERITY), I'm going to start my Thanksgiving baking. Every year my extended family gathers at a women's club in a small central Florida town. It's a two-hour drive for us, so I've learned not to bring anything that needs to be served hot out of the oven. Pies, though . . . . that's the ticket.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I often hear from readers that they're struck by the fact that none of my books are alike. And while readers may like this difference, it drives publishers crazy because the publishing world wants to put authors in boxes and keep them there--that's the whole point of "branding," which is a huge buzzword these days.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Sorry--I've fallen behind on my blog posts. But here's another theology lesson for Sunday. :-)
Week Ten: God is a Trinity. What does that mean?
A lot of people make a big deal out of the fact that the word “trinity” isn’t in the Bible, but you know what? I’ve written dozens of books, and not once have I ever explained to my readers that I am a woman. Most people figure that out. How? First, my name is a woman’s name. Second, if you were to see my picture, you’d guess that I’m a woman. Third, if you were to meet me, you’d know that I’m female. I look like a woman and talk like a woman because I am a woman.
The Bible doesn’t “spell out” the concept of the Trinity, but it gives us plenty of evidence for the knowledge that God is three-in-one. First, when you read the Bible, you’ll notice that God is not alone. Last week you may have noticed that when God created man, he said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”
Who was he talking to? Not the angels, because they don’t create like God. Not the animals or the plants or trees, because they don’t create, either. They are created things, not the creator, and only God can make something out of nothing. Created beings can never create like God can.
So who was he talking to? The other members of the Trinity: specifically, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. When we read the Bible, we see that God is three persons, but He is also one God. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 tells us, “Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” So God is one—and yet he is three persons.
The idea that God is three-in-one—called the doctrine of the Trinity—is sometimes difficult to understand. Some of the smartest people in the world have trouble with it because they try to apply human understanding to God, who is bigger than human understanding.
Some people say that the Trinity is like an egg—in one egg, you can find a shell, a yolk, and a white part. One egg with three parts. But this is not really an accurate picture of the Trinity, because an egg shell is only part of an egg—only 1/3 of an egg, to be precise. Yet each member of the Trinity is fully God, not just “1/3” of God. God the Father contains all of God in himself. Jesus contains all of God in himself. The Holy Spirit possesses all of God in himself.
The yolk of an egg doesn’t have the hard shell of an egg, right? But Jesus has all of God’s power and mercy. He’s not missing any part of God. The white of an egg is missing the egg’s protein (found in the yolk), but the Holy Spirit has all of God’s knowledge and capability. He’s not missing any part of God’s essence, either.
Other people say that God is like water: H2O can exist as a liquid, a gas, or as ice—one substance in three different forms. They say that God is sometimes like a Father on a throne, sometimes in the form of Jesus, and sometimes in the form of a Spirit. But that’s not right, either, because the Bible clearly teaches us that God is three different persons. They do different things. They talk to each other. They are definitely three different persons in one God.
They have the same power, knowledge, and characteristics. They do differ, however, in their actions, in what they do. Let’s see what the Bible says about their differences:
The creation of the world: the first chapter of Genesis tells us that God spoke the world into existence: “The God said, ‘Let their be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). But Jesus and the Holy Spirit were active at creation, too. Look at John 1:1-4, where Jesus is called “the Word”: “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.”
The Holy Spirit was active at creation, too. Genesis 1:2 tells us that the “Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”
The plan of salvation: all three members of the Trinity were also active in the plan of salvation. John 3:16 tells us, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God the Father sent the Son, who died for our sins. After Jesus rose from the dead and went back to heaven, the Holy Spirit came. John 14:26 says, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
God the Father sends the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us, lives in us, and helps us grow as Christians.
God the Father has always been the Father, Jesus has always been the Son, and the Holy Spirit has always been the Spirit. Paul wrote, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5).
Even before he made the world, even before Moses wrote Genesis, God decided to make mankind. He wanted his representatives to have free will and not be robots, so he gave Adam the opportunity to choose Him by giving Adam an opportunity to disobey. God knew Adam would sin, so even before the world began, God knew that Jesus would have to go to earth and sacrifice his holy life for our sins.
Even knowing those things, God created the world anyway. He did so because He loves mankind—He loves you. He wants you to be holy and without fault in his eyes. He wants you to shine in the image of his dear son, Jesus.
God is an amazing being . . . and next week we’ll look at one of his amazing character qualities.
Memory verse: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
1. Look at the following verses. What do these verses tell us about the Trinity?
· Colossians 1:15-18: “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.”
· Psalm 33:6,9: “The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born . . . For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.”
· 1 Corinthians 8:6: “But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.”
· Hebrews 1:1-2: “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.”
· Galatians 4:4: “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.”
· 1 Peter 1:2: “God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy.”
· Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
2. Some people say that Jesus isn’t equal to God in power or authority. But look at the first chapter of Hebrews and see what God the Father says to Jesus: “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else” (Hebrews 1:8-9).
3. Read the story of Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:9-11): “One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, ‘You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.’”
Point out the parts of the passage that clearly reveal that all three members of the Trinity were present and active when Jesus was baptized.
4. Do you have to understand how the Trinity works in order to understand God? Not really. I don’t know exactly how my hot water heater manages to get hot water from the garage into my bathroom, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying a warm shower. The important thing is to realize that when the Bible presents a truth that’s hard to understand, you can accept it because God does not lie. In time, as the Holy Spirit teaches and guides you, you will grow in understanding.
This is what you should know about the Trinity:
1. God is three persons.
2. Each person is fully God.
3. There is one God.
That’s it. We may not fully understand it yet, but one day we will.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Did you know that it can be against the law to flirt?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
If there's one thing I remember from my year singing with the Re'Generation--besides the music and the friendship--it's Pastor Derric's stories. Life lessons. He taught them to us; he taught them at events where we'd sing and he'd speak. He taught the things he'd learned, and if you've ever heard me teach, you've heard me teach some of the things he taught me.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I've been thinking about what I want to tell my Taylor University students during our last class meeting. So if you don't mind, let me run my little speech by you . . .
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I have LOT of out of print children's books. I have mixed feelings about them--I like them, because I like kids, but I wrote them YEARS ago, so when I look at them, I see a lot of things I do differently now. (If you've been in one of my writing classes, you know what I mean.)
Monday, November 15, 2010
Last summer I got to know Cindy Woodsmall personally--her family and I met in the airport, and they were kind enough to give me a ride to the conference hotel. In the time we spent together, I came to know Cindy as delightful, warm, and family-centered.
Who an author is really makes a difference to me. I find it hard to read a book if I've met the author and he or she is self-centered, indulgent, etc. (By the way, I met Kitty Kelley last week--her latest unauthorized bio is called Oprah. The book is fascinating and she was so warm!)
Anyway, I'm happy to tell you about Cindy's latest book, a re-release called THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS.
The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry.
Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?
2010 Inspirational Readers Choice Contest winner CBA and ECPA Bestseller
To read the first chapter and/or for purchasing info, go to http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/books/sound-of-sleigh-bells_excerpt.php
She is also a veteran homeschool mom who no longer holds that position. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.
To visit Cindy’s Web site, go to http://www.cindywoodsmall.com
For information on how to receive free bookmarks and autographed bookplates, go to http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/bookplates.php
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Och! I've fallen behind on me blogging. :-)
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
All this traveling I've been doing, and I MISSED THIS! But watching it made me cry. :-) Just so beautiful, and if you like a capella music, here's something wonderful. (The most AMAZING part to me is the girl "singing" the violin in one of the very first frames. Hmmm. Could I do that? Doubt it.)
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
If this is Wednesday, Lord willing, I'm in Washington D.C. getting ready to fly home again. But while I'm in the air, let me tell you about Roxanne Rustand's latest book, WINTER REUNION:
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
I will be heading to the airport again today--the National Press Club is honoring 100 authors, and among them is Gayle Haggard, author of WHY I STAYED. Since Gayle's husband can't attend with her, she invited me along! :-) (I helped her with that book.) So kind of her. So I'll be just sitting and smiling, happy to be there and be among so many other fabulous authors. Details can be found here.
Monday, November 08, 2010
I've been traveling so much lately, you'd think I'd have this plane thing all figured out. Well . . . not so.
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Friday, November 05, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
The girl in the middle--the featured singer--is a robot. Pretty cool, huh? Except--is it just me, or are her hands way too big for her body?
Technology. You gotta love it . . .
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
A Prairie Christmas Collection
from Barbour Books
by Tracie Peterson, Deborah Raney, Tracey Bateman
and other favorite Christian authors
Settling the vast open prairies, weathering winter storms, and finding joy to celebrate during Christmas epitomizes the pioneer experience. In a unique collection of nine Christmas romances, Barbour Publishing brings readers A Prairie Christmas Collection where they can relive a prairie Christmas with all its challenge and delights as penned by multi-published authors, including Tracie Peterson and Deborah Raney. Featuring deckled-edge pages and a foil-stamped cover with fold-under flaps, the collection makes an ideal gift for the romance reader.
In this holiday romance collection, the warmth of Christmas will radiate new love from the high plains of Minnesota and Dakota Territory, across the rolling hills of Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, and down into the flats of Kansas. Filled with inspiration and faith, each story will become a treasure to be enjoyed again each year. Along with Peterson and Raney, other contributing authors include Tracey Bateman, Pamela Griffin, JoAnn A. Grote, Maryn Langer, Darlene Mindrup, Janet Spaeth and Jill Stengl.
For more information see Deborah Raney's website at www.deborahraney.com.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
In case you don't know, November is the national novel-writing month--in which thousands of people attempt to write the first draft of a 50,000 word novel.
This young man has put together a hilarious video about the event. Enjoy, and to all of you who are jonning in NaNoWrMo--write on!