My word for this year – inspire others – DISCIPLE

So I had such success with my word of the year last year that I had to choose one for this year.  I started in December waiting for a song to clue me in –nothing….crickets…  Nothing inspired me, nothing came to me.  I tried to find my word by reading the Bible, looking on Pinterest, Etsy, Googling….searching and searching.  NOTHING    – no – that is not my word.  I began to think that Patience may be my word but I still wasn’t sure.  I would write down words that seemed to spark something inside me but I couldn’t find the perfect word.  Oh no – it was mid-January –and I still did not have my word.  Our athletes of our nonprofit ministry was going to each choose our word of the year and discuss at a meeting and I didn’t have mine.  Wait – I was in charge of the meeting and I had nothing to share, nothing to inspire.  I kept feeling that my word had something to do with the person in front of me.  No – not a specific person but to focus on the person I was with; when I was with them.  Well – so what word describes that?  I prayed even more and decided that God would give to me if I TRUST (my word last year) him.  I sat in the quiet and listened.

My word came – it was DISCIPLE.  Again – not a word that I would necessarily have chosen on my own but this was my word for the year.  I liked this word – it is a noun – DISCIPLE.  It can mean – a follower of Jesus; the chosen ones, Jesus’ inner circle – how cool is that?  Yes -that is my word!

Oh – it is a verb too – it is an action word – it can mean to teach or train others to be disciples. Oh that means I am committing to disciple to others and help them become disciples.  I am not sure about this now.

I quickly turned in my Bible to the Great Commission from Jesus. I knew it was about disciples.

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,

 baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It seems pretty clear to me that Jesus wants us to reach people all over the world.  He wants us to share his love and that he died on the cross, and they should be baptized in his name.  We should teach them to use their story, share their talents and follow the Bible which says they need to go.  This is where I see my calling this year – I want to help others determine how to serve, what their talents are and how to share the gospel.  I am praying for the right way to share and encourage others to serve God – not just go to church but to have a real relationship and a real servant heart.  Some people want to do those things but they just need a little coaching.  That is where I feel God is leading me.

So funny thing – I got my confirmation of my word DISCIPLE the very same week at church.  Our pastors announced that the word for the year at church is “Discipleshift”.  We are going to focus on this very thing!  I love when God winks at me and I can feel him saying – I have a plan for you…  I also heard the word DISCIPLE and read it several times and every time I got that feeling of confirmation!  (Still haven’t heard a song with it in it like last year…)

I sometimes feel that I think too much of myself – why would God choose me to minister and disciple others?  This is where I get confused – why me?  But then I think – why not me?  I can share through my blog, I can work in our nonprofit ministry with the teens, I can serve in our kid’s ministry, I can lead small groups and I can be an example.  I can find lots of excuses not to disciple, but I am not going to this time – I am committed to follow Jesus.  I am excited!  You know I looked at the background of the first twelve disciples and they were nothing extra special – just plain ordinary folks.  Fishermen, tax collectors, tradesmen; they were doubters, liars, followers – and they did amazing things for Jesus!  I want to do that too!  I searched more in the Bible about how to become a Disciple and found these tips in Matthew and even in Psalms.

Matthew 16:24-26 The Message (MSG)

24-26 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Psalms 34:19 The Message (MSG)

Disciples so often get into trouble;

still, God is there every time.

So I am focused on my word for the year – DISCIPLE and I intend to live it through my personal, spiritual, physical, mental and family life.  My goal is to help others become disciples too – I would love to help anyone that needs support and help in finding their gift to serve God.

Let’s go make disciples!

Leigh

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Palm Sunday – Jesus is treated like a King…

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Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week for Christ’s followers. On Palm Sunday Christians mark Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I am preparing for Palm Sunday lesson for Kids Church tomorrow and did a little research. It was neat that this event would be prophesied in the Old Testament. I also find it very interesting that Jesus chose a donkey – a humble, hard working animal representing peace instead of a great horse of war like most Kings would ride on. The Israelites wanted him to rescue them from the Romans but he was there to rescue all of mankind that trusted in him. I know this had to be such a special day for Jesus and his disciples – they were finally receiving the glory and recognition they so deserved. What a special day for him….but only a week later – they yelled to crucify him and even his own disciples betrayed and denied him. We really need to study this special event and learn some lessons…

Definition of HOSANNA—used as a cry of acclamation and adoration

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it is actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew root words are found in Psalm 118:25, which says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!” (ESV). The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

Palm branches are a part of Christian worship on Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, as it is sometimes called. This event commemorates Jesus Christ‘s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, as foretold by the prophet Zechariah. The Bible tells us people cut branches from palm trees, laid them across Jesus’ path and waved them in the air. They greeted Jesus not as the spiritual Messiah who would take away the sins of the world, but as a potential political leader who would overthrow the Romans. Their shout “Hosanna” meant “save now.” In ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. They were often depicted on coins and important buildings. Solomon had palm branches carved into the walls and doors of the temple (1 Kings 6:29). Again at the end of the Bible, people from every nation raise palm branches to honor Jesus (Revelation 7:9). Today, many Christian churches distribute palm branches to worshipers on Palm Sunday. The people remember Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, praise him for the gift of salvation, and look expectantly to his second coming.   (Sources: gotquestions.org and scienceofcorrespondences.com.)

In the Old Testament in Zechariah 9:9 The Message – A Humble King Riding a Donkey

9-0 “Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!
Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
a good king who makes all things right,
a humble king riding a donkey,
a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
no more war horses in Jerusalem,
no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
a peaceful rule worldwide,
from the four winds to the seven seas.

One of the few stories told in all four gospels. Here is each version. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) This was truly a significant event.

Matthew 21 The Message (MSG) – The Royal Welcome

21 1-3 When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.” -5 This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet: Tell Zion’s daughter, “Look, your king’s on his way, poised and ready, mounted On a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal.” 6-9 The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!” 10 As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?” 11 The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Mark 11 The Message (MSG) – Entering Jerusalem on a Colt

11 1-3 When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs him, and will return him right away.’”4-7 They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it. Some of those standing there said, “What are you doing untying that colt?” The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and he mounted.8-10 The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in highest heaven! 11 He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.

Luke 19 The Message – God’s Personal Visit

28-31 After saying these things, Jesus headed straight up to Jerusalem. When he got near Bethphage and Bethany at the mountain called Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says anything, asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘His Master needs him.’”

32-33 The two left and found it just as he said. As they were untying the colt, its owners said, “What are you doing untying the colt?” 34 They said, “His Master needs him.” 35-36 They brought the colt to Jesus. Then, throwing their coats on its back, they helped Jesus get on. As he rode, the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street. 37-38 Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed:

Blessed is he who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven!    Glory in the high places!

39 Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!”

40 But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”

41-44 When the city came into view, he wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it’s too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They’ll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All this because you didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.”

45-46 Going into the Temple he began to throw out everyone who had set up shop, selling everything and anything. He said, “It’s written in Scripture, My house is a house of prayer; You have turned it into a religious bazaar.” 47-48 From then on he taught each day in the Temple. The high priests, religion scholars, and the leaders of the people were trying their best to find a way to get rid of him. But with the people hanging on every word he spoke, they couldn’t come up with anything.

John 12 See How Your King Comes

12-15 The next day the huge crowd that had arrived for the Feast heard that Jesus was entering Jerusalem. They broke off palm branches and went out to meet him. And they cheered:

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!

Yes! The King of Israel! Jesus got a young donkey and rode it, just as the Scripture has it:

No fear, Daughter Zion:    See how your king comes,    riding a donkey’s colt.

16 The disciples didn’t notice the fulfillment of many Scriptures at the time, but after Jesus was glorified, they remembered that what was written about him matched what was done to him.

17-19 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, was there giving eyewitness accounts. It was because they had spread the word of this latest God-sign that the crowd swelled to a welcoming parade. The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: “It’s out of control. The world’s in a stampede after him.”

Funny thing about Palm Sunday is that everyone praised Jesus and honored him and showed their love, but only one week later – they yelled crucify him! Many denied even knowing him – including his most beloved followers. Do we praise Jesus on Sundays and then deny him during the week? What are some things that we can do each day to show Jesus that we adore him and he is our king? So this next week is HOLY WEEK and we need to remember what Jesus did for us…Friday he stretched his Palms and had large nails pierce them with our names on them so that he could save our life. Not just mine but all that trust and believe.

Here are a few videos that I enjoy about Jesus and Palm Sunday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ23ryYK8ac

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMKNbLd0dfg

Blessings…

Leigh Christian

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

ImageWe have all heard the saying, “Actions Speaks Louder Than Words”, but what does it really mean?  It means that just because you say something doesn’t mean you understand or mean it.  The way that you act or treat others makes the most substantial impact.  Often when we discuss with our children to do something, like cleaning their room, they say OK and make promises to keep it clean in the future. Well, the next week comes around and there are towels in the floor, candy wrappers laying around, Qtips on the counter…I think you see the picture.  Promises are broken and sometimes, even forgotten they were made.  I know this is typical for most kids, but adults do the same thing. Friends make you promises and then don’t take time to follow through.  Why is that? 

In the Bible, Jesus says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18NIV  

Jesus always backed up his words with his actions….Oh to be like him.  I strive everyday to be kind, generous, make good decisions but it just seems like I fail to often.  Action on our part is required to help out those in need and to demonstrate our love.  Maybe we take chicken noodle soup to a sick friend or we help someone move or we offer ride to church to kids that don’t have a way – these are all actions that speak volumes about who you are. When love is characterized by sacrificial giving of time, prayers, money or otherwise; this is when action really does speak loudly.  Saying the right thing but not doing anything to back it up – is empty, without impact.  You may have really lost someone’s trust when this happens.  So think about what you say, what you promise and make sure you plan to act on it.  Show me…don’t just tell me!

 

It is always good to provide kind and encouraging words to help a friend or family member; even a stranger. Sometimes all one needs in a time of trouble are the right words of encouragement. So, we, at little expense to ourselves, can just make a habit of simply being nice. That is a good rule of thumb to start putting into practice. Take time to just be nice and go out of your way to make a difference.  Little things are often big things to others!   Seems obvious enough that we should not even have to mention it. When caught up in our everyday busy routines, it becomes easy to turn ourselves off to much of what is going on around us. Which might cause us, for instance, to ignore an elderly person using a walker struggling to get groceries into their car. Who knows, they might also have a hard time driving, perhaps may even live in your neighborhood. All it would take is for us to walk over, help load the groceries and find out. Check in on them often, offer to help!  So much could happen, just because we sometimes decide to act like the God we claim to worship and believe in.Good things always seems to happen to people who do things for others.  They get blessed even more than the people they are blessing.  So I encourage you to go do something for someone today.  It can make a difference!

 

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi

In Matthew 21:28-32 ESV 

Jesus shares about this very issue in Matthew 21:28-32 ESV version. “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Jesus was saying – we make mistakes – but ask for forgiveness and make things right!  People can change.  Make sure you actions are speaking what you want them to say!

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Connecting with you,

Leigh

The world is not your stage

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“So have you ever noticed that when people watch you that you tend to be nicer or try to be more polite?  We all like getting credit, feeling appreciation and being admired.  I know I do and I feel like that is one of my biggest issues – I need approval and I feel insecure if i don’t get it.  We do the same thing with God – we act like we are ALL that some days when we make a small tithe or help someone.  Why is it we think God should be so proud of these little things when we have done so many more things wrong? Jesus mentioned this we he mentioned prayer – I think he was trying to make a point – we don’t need to be boastful to God – he knows the real us and we just need to honestly talk to God.  I love the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught us to say….Jesus started it off – Our Father who art in heaven…God is our Father and on this Father’s day weekend – I can’t think of a better word for God.  He takes care of us, guides us, scolds us when needed, and loves us so much!  I am so happy to know God and I hope you know him too – he will be there with you always and loves us with no end.  So let’s change and not show off and think the world is our stage to perform and to take credit.  Let’s just be real, be kind and be loving.  When you say thank you – don’t just say it – show it!  When you do something nice for others – don’t brag or tell everyone – just do it and tell no one.  I know these are things I need to work on too – so I will pray for you as you pray for me! 

Matthew 6  The Message (MSG)  The World Is Not a Stage

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Pray with Simplicity

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

16-18 “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.

Salt and Light…Make a Difference

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From Bible Gateway – Matthew 5:13-16  The Message (MSG)  Salt and Light

13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

So Jesus told this illustration about salt and light so that we could relate to what he was saying.  We all love salt…I mean what is a french fry without salt?  God needs us to be his salt – if we do not step up for him and tell others about God – how are they ever going to “taste” his love, his compassion and his grace?  We have to “spice” it up and add flavor to others lives by being the “salt” and showing them what being a Christian really is and how amazing God’s love is.  He warns if we “lose our flavor” he gave a warning that if we do nothing to share our experience of the Gospel, we aren’t being helpful to anyone at all.   Think back to popcorn at a movie – unsalted – how boring….how tasteless it is.  Then think about the perfectly popped popcorn with salt and of course melted butter….wow – what a difference!  The salt is a bog part of the difference.  It adds flavor, it adds taste – it makes it more exciting to eat and makes it so much better.  Jesus wants us to be the salt and wants us to not lose our flavor.  What if we never shared anything about God and just sat around….we would lose our flavor to God and we would be nothing.  Keep your flavor and spread the word….:shake the salt shaker”.

Christians are to be “salt and light” to the world. Both salt and light stand out from their environment, and improve the world around them for others. Jesus’ followers are described as the “light of the world.” Just as it would be pointless to turn on a light and then cover it up, it would be foolish if we accepted Christ and then made no effort to do his work in the world. Christians are to spread the light of truth on the world around them.     Once again – Jesus illustrates that he wants us to share the Word of God and to allow others to see the light.  Think about a really dark tunnel and then a little bit of light shows and it makes you want to be closer and closer to it.  You completely focus because it is the only thing you can see….treat God the same way.  Focus on him and share about him and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Jesus wants to be your light and he wants you to be a light unto the world.  I love the song “This Little Light of Mine…I’m going to let it shine…”  that is exactly what God is telling us to do – let your light shine for God.

I love that Jesus told easy stories so that we can understand his point.  Jesus just wants us to make a difference – go the extra mile, show compassion and love and tell others about God.  I hope that you will flavor your world and light up your whole community for Christ.  Salt and Light – that’s how we should live….make a difference!

If you are struggling with being the salt of the earth or the light of the world – go to God and pray that he will guide you through and give you courage.

Great love – the ultimate sacrifice – Memorial Day thoughts

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John 15:13   New International Version (NIV)

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

It is so hard for me to imagine how a soldier must feel fighting for their country.  I am so in awe that they have the courage and bravery to stand up for us and to protect us.  I am always saddened when I hear about a soldier getting killed in the line of duty.  What a price that they pay for me to be free – why would they do that?  How amazing is that?  I want to thank every solider for standing up and protecting me and sometimes they are hurt or killed and I don’t know how to really thank them.  I do pray for them and thank God for them but I wish I could do so much more.  So often we love Memorial Day because it starts summer and we seem to forget about the real meaning….the true purpose is to remember those who fought so that we can live and be free.  I am trying to make an effort to remember and to really think about the sacrifice that our soldiers make – that is what Memorial Day is really all about.

There was another man who laid down his life for me and you….Jesus.  He paid the price for our freedom too!  It is a good time to remember his sacrifice too and to show him our love and acceptance and belief.  I hope that if you are reading this today that you do know Jesus and the price he paid so that you could be free.  Thank you Jesus….

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:17 MSG

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