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Archive for March, 2012

Today I am thrilled to welcome Jennifer Slattery as today’s guest writer. Jennifer and I first met at last year’s Writing for the Soul Conference, and since then I’ve come to know her as one of the kindest, most caring, and compassionate people I’ve ever met. She is an excellent writer, and her blog is one of my favorites to read. Jennifer has also started something called the “Reach Out to Live Out Campaign”- a campaign that focuses on sharing true stories to make acts of love contagious. To share your story and be entered to win a free gift basket, you can find more information here: http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/reach-out-donors/.

But now, please join me in welcoming Jennifer!

From Fear to Faith

by Jennifer Slattery

If I were to ask a group of believers for their favorite Bible stories, I suspect a few would rise to the top: David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s Den … Abraham and Isaac. We love to hear stories of courageous men and women following God with unhindered obedience. If only we had their courage and unwavering faith!

And yet, I can’t help but wonder what happened in the “back story.” Were these heroes of old always courageous, or was their courage learned through experience?

We like to think these Bible heroes are somehow more than human, but the truth is, they likely struggled with the same emotions as you and I: fear, sadness, anger, discontentment. What made them great was not their super-human spirituality, but instead, a superior God who continued to mold, guide, strengthen and transform their hearts.

I love the story of Abraham because it demonstrates a steady progression from fear to faith. I’m tempted to start and end on Mount Moriah, where God tested Abraham’s faith and Abraham came forth as gold, but if I skip over his times of struggle, I miss out on crucial growth steps.

In Genesis chapter 12, God promised to bless Abraham (called Abram). God repeats the blessing once Abraham arrives in Canaan, but with more details.

Abraham’s offspring will inherit the land. Only there’s a problem–Abraham and Sarah don’t have any children. This means, God’s going to have to grant them children in order to make good on His promise.

And yet, a few verses later, once Abraham gets to Egypt, he fears for his life. Faith would say, “God said He would bless me. God promised I would have offspring. Dead men don’t have children, therefore, God will protect Sarah and I in this foreign land.”

Abraham didn’t say that. Fear took hold instead, and motivated him to take matters into his own hands. Perhaps he thought God needed a little help. And so, Abraham came up with a plan.

Before entering Egypt, Abraham told Sarah, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 

12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13

Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” (Genesis 12:11-12)

And what happens when we allow fear to control our actions and take matters into our own hands? We make a mess! Which is exactly what happened here. Because of Abraham’s sin and lack of faith, countless Egyptians suffered.

17But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. (Genesis 12:17)

Abraham takes Sarah, and a large amount of riches from Egypt, and moves on. God is gracious, and in Genesis 15, He repeats the blessing. This time He’s even more specific, telling Abraham his child will be his own flesh and blood.

6Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.(Genesis 15:1-6)

So now, God has spoken to Abraham on three separate occasions, promising to bless him, protect him, and give him a son. And Abraham believes God … at least, during the miraculous moment when God speaks. But notice what happens in the very next chapter:

1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. (Genesis 16:1-2)

God promised Abraham a son. Abraham’s married to Sarah. Sarah’s not having children, so Abraham decides he needs to help God out … again. He takes Hagar, Sarah’s handmaden, and sleeps with her. The result? Another mess. Tension fills the home, to the point that Abraham sends his own son and Hagar away.

 By the time we join Abraham on Mount Moriah, he and God have quite a history, don’t they? Time and time again, God’s promised to bless Abraham, yet when difficulties arise, fear takes hold and Abraham takes matters into his own hands. Each time, his actions create chaos and pain. I’m thinking by the time God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he’s finally learned that God’s ways are indeed better.

So basically, Abraham’s faith grew through experience, by watching God show up again and again, by hearing God’s promises again and again. With each failure, Abraham learned God’s grace wasn’t dependent on Him.

The same is true for us. I believe our faith starts once we get to the end of ourselves, when we realize that we are incapable of going it alone. When we’re tired of creating messes.

It is hard to have unshakable faith straight out of the gate, but as we continue to walk with God, He shows us day after day and year after year that He is good, and strong, and wise. Then, when new difficulties arise, we can remember God’s faithfulness and derive courage from our past experiences.

Are you struggling with fear today? God wants to replace your fear with unshakable faith. Spend a moment in His presence, and remember times He’s proven Himself faithful in the past.

————

Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband of 16 years and their 14-year-old daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Internet Café Devotions, Jewels of Encouragement, the Christian Pulse, and maintains a devotional blog at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com

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Thanks to everyone who entered to win Donna Pyle’s Bible Study and DVD set “Your Strong Suit,” and a huge thank you to Donna for her generosity and for offering to give a free set away here on The Fear List! Thank you so much for visiting this week.

Without further ado, the results are in.

Congratulations to…

Nichole Parks

Nichole, you must be on a lucky streak! You’ll be receiving your free Bible study and DVD set in the mail soon.

For those of you who lucked out this time around, you can also purchase Donna’s study here: http://www.artesianministries.org/store

Thanks again to everyone who visited this week, and I’ll see ya on Monday!

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Today I am proud to feature the lovely Donna Pyle. Donna was my roommate at last year’s Writing for the Soul Conference, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more fun or friendly.

A while back, I talked about God’s armor as described in Ephesians 6. If you missed it, you can read it here: http://wp.me/p132LV-nN. It just so happens Donna wrote a Bible study on the very same thing, so I thought it would be awesome to have her on to go even deeper on the topic. Lucky for me, she agreed!

Donna is the founder of Artesian Ministries and travels to teach her study internationally. You can find her at

www.artesianministries.org or her blog at www.hydratedliving.com. Comment to have a chance to win a free copy of the 8-lesson DVD and accompanying Study Guide book. We’ll draw a name on Thursday, March 22, and the winner will be announced on Friday, March 23!

She’s written and recorded an 8-lesson DVD-based Bible study based on God’s armor that released in November 2011. The study has been very well received and many are already asking for her next study. Here’s a little snippet about the study:

It seems odd that Christianity and warfare are intertwined. Isn’t Christianity about love and peace?

“Yes, but dark spiritual forces launch continuous attacks against us, our loved ones, and every area of our life. Satan’s goal is our complete and utter destruction. Suiting up in God’s armor provides our only hope of survival. God did not provide our armor so we could admire it hanging in our closet. Walking through our day without His armor means walking onto the spiritual battlefield surrounded by snipers we cannot see nor triumph over.” Donna digs verse-by-verse through Ephesians 6:10-18 to reveal the battle, our armor, His protection, and our place in God’s army.

Donna says: “Spiritual warfare is a tough issue for some to face. I have seen some people choose to ignore the raging spiritual warfare because of fear. They abdicate their post on the battlefield because the reality that a powerful, unseen enemy actively labors to destroy them is simply too frightening to bear. Also, we are an exhausted generation. Technology, over-crowded schedules, and over-committed lives allow no margins. Dwelling too long on the topic of spiritual warfare seems overwhelming in light of other obligations, so they just remove it from the list. One less thing to ‘deal’ with, so to speak.”

“God prompted me to write this study because I needed to understand the level of protection that He provides to us. I had heard of ‘suiting up’ and ‘standing firm’, but until I really dug deep into this study, I only vague understood what that meant. This study has changed my faith walk on every level. We are so loved and uber protected by God Almighty Himself!”

Here’s a video preview of the study:

“Lives have been transformed by this study. It has been amazing to hear the personal stories of many, previously shackled by fear, step out in faith in new areas of their personal, relational, and ministry-related journeys. Knowing that God’s armor provides impenetrable protection has fostered a renewed trust and confidence that nothing the enemy attempts will take them out. In hope and His strength, they have relocated and work to rebuild their lives as they help their neighbors do likewise. Let His praises ring!”

Remember, leave a comment here by Thursday, March 22, to have a chance to win the 8-lesson DVD study and study guide.

———-

An engaging speaker, author, Bible teacher and worship leader, Donna has a passion for studying and teaching God’s Word. She has authored 18 Bible studies, numerous devotions, and magazine articles, and serves as a Staff Writer for Blessed Life Magazine.

Donna’s latest full length Bible study on comfort (through Concordia Publishing House) releases in July 2012. She’s currently working on her first non-fiction book with her literary agent, Rachelle Gardner. Donna fuels her creativity with Chick-Fil-A® and Starbucks®, and enjoys writing, blogging about faith-based issues, traveling, reading, singing, and torturing her cats with feather toys.

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Out of a total of eight entrants, the randomly selected winner of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters is…

Tessa

Congratulations, Tessa! I hope you enjoy the book.

A huge thank you to everyone who entered and helped me spread the word! I wish I could have given a copy to everyone.

For those of you still interested in reading it, here is one of the places you can purchase the book: http://www.amazon.com/Chicken-Soup-Soul-Inspirational-Entertaining/dp/1935096818/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331872842&sr=1-1.

Please stay tuned on Monday for a fabulous guest post from my friend Donna, and yet another giveaway!

Who knows? This time, the winner might be you.

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Hey all! I have some exciting news to share today.

A while back, my article “A Sign of Love” was accepted to be published as one of the stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters, which officially releases tomorrow, March 13. In celebration of this, I’m giving away one free copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters! The contest is open to anyone and everyone (as long as you’re a citizen of the U.S. or Canada), so feel free to share with your friends!

Says Amazon: “Mothers and daughters. They are, at the same time, very similar and completely unique. This relationship – through birth, childhood, teen years, adulthood, grandchildren, aging, and every step in between – can be the best, the hardest, and the sweetest. Mothers and daughters will laugh, cry, and find inspiration in this collection of stories that remind them of their shared love, appreciation and special bond.”

 
If you’re looking for some inspiration or a gift for this coming Mother’s Day, consider entering!

Here’s how: Simply share the link to this post by either copying and pasting the link in your browser, or by clicking one of the “share” buttons at the bottom of this post, and help me spread the word! Either share the link to this post on either Facebook, Twitter, or in an e-mail, then leave a comment with your name to enter. The contest is open from now until Thursday night, March 15. A name will be randomly selected from a hat and the winner announced on Friday, March 16. If you are the winner, you will be contacted for a mailing address by Friday night so I can send you your prize.

Thank you for helping me spread the word, and best of luck!

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Hey everyone! Today’s guest blogger goes by the name of Jennifer Hallmark. A mutual friend introduced us through Facebook, and I found a post of hers on fear that I absolutely loved. I loved the image she used, and asked for her permission to share it here. You can find the original post at: http://www.jewelsofencouragement.com/2012/02/so-do-not-fear.html. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming Jennifer! I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

So Do Not Fear

by Jennifer Hallmark

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
~Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Have you ever had a day when life dumped everything on you and left you floundering? That day erupted on a Saturday in the spring. A refreshing time of devotion spent with God opened my morning. I didn’t have to work, so I planned a restful day to shop and visit my grandmother. Ten minutes later, life interrupted my devotional reading.

I pressed on, but a car breakdown and my grandmother injured in a fall before I arrived were only a taste of the many unpleasant events of that day. Any one event would upset me, but all in one day? The next day my worry and stress continued as I drove toward my house from work. As I turned in my driveway, I stared at the roof. Twenty or thirty birds perched along the eves and alcoves.

“God, that’s how I feel my life, is. Trouble keeps landing on me like birds, one after the other. I’m overwhelmed.”

My spirit stirred. Even if your roof was covered in its entirety with birds, so many you couldn’t see one square inch of it, it wouldn’t fall. The house has a strong foundation and it’s well built.

At that moment, peace enveloped me and I knew God had spoken to my heart. He had built a strong foundation in my life. I wouldn’t fall, for He also upheld me with His righteous right hand. The car had been repaired and my grandmother recovered from her fall. God’s hand held me tight and will continue, no matter what life brings.

Father God, when life overwhelms me, help me to see Your hand upholding me through it all.

———————–

Jennifer Hallmark is an author and women’s ministry consultant. She has a website, http://www.jenniferhallmark.com and blog, jenlhall63.blogspot.com. Her first novel, Journey of Grace: A New Beginning is currently searching for a good home. Jennifer resides with husband Danny in Alabama and loves her family, dog Max and coffee shops, in no particular order. You can find her online at www.JenniferHallmark.com and jenlhall63.blogspot.com.

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