Seasons During Our Walk With God

The following is a guest post by Melissa K. Norris. Melissa is a Christian fiction writer who just came out with a new book entitled Pioneering Today – her first non-fiction work. Click on the link and check out her special promotion that expires October 31st. The following post has been excerpted from her new book.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (NIV) Ecclesiastes 3:1

Many scriptures and parables in the Bible talk about seasons and gardening. There is the parable of the mustard seed, the fig tree, the weeds, and numerous other verses that have to do with crops, harvesting, and growing things.

During Jesus’s time on earth, he used parables that were relatable to the time and people. Stories and analogies that were common and familiar to them.

But I think there was another reason Jesus used these examples. A reason in our fast paced technologically filled world, we are sadly missing.

I believe that when we are still, away from the hustle and bustle of technology, we can feel God’s presence. It is stronger when there is no static or interference from man-made noise.

I don’t feel it’s coincidence I feel closer to God while gardening. The creator of all life, the I Am, who could have chosen any place or environment in this world to house Adam and Eve, placed them in a garden.[Continue Reading...]

The Wine That Never Fails

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

~ John 4:13-14

Early in His earthly ministry, Jesus was invited to a wedding banquet. In those days, the bridegroom was responsible for supplying both the food and the drinks for the banquet.

The mark of a good wedding feast was that the wine be of good quality and sufficient quantity.

Running out of wine was a social disgrace and represented a grave error on the part of the groom. In this particular banquet, the bridegroom made a colossal mistake. He failed to provide enough wine for the feast, and he was to blame.

But the Lord was there.

Upon assessing the situation, Jesus performed His first miracle. He converted six twenty-gallon waterpots into wine. Yet it was not ordinary wine.

The wine the Lord created was superior in quality to the wine that had run out. And it was more than enough to supply the needs of the banquet. [Continue Reading...]

Two Kinds of People

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” 

~ C.S. Lewis

Lewis’ observation is not only true in the end, but it’s true in this life as well. And it’s true for all human beings, including Christians.

God sometimes releases people to do what they wish, even if it’s to their own destruction.

So don’t be the kind of person to whom God says, “Thy will be done.”

That’s a scary place to be in.

Training for Reigning

“He Himself is the great Man of Sorrows who knows our ills, Who was called the son of a carpenter, though He was the Son of God and the great Healer of sick souls. Who laboured for 30 years in a humble carpenter’s shop to fulfil God’s will. And God wills that in imitation of Christ, man should live and walk humbly on earth, not reaching for the sky, but bowing to humble things, learning from the Gospel to be meek and humble of heart.”

~ Vincent van Gogh

David was anointed at Bethel to be king. Immediately afterwards, however, he returned to his ordinary life as a shepherd.

He didn’t get shipped off to some training school. Rather, it was in the sheep fields as a shepherd that David learned to exercise and build his faith in God.

There in the sheep fields, he tested his shepherd’s sling.

When the hour came when he would face Goliath, David used that which he had tested in secret as a shepherd.

He declined the sword and the shield, but used that which he experienced in the trials of ordinary life.

And so it is with every servant of God. Or so it should be.

Wherever God puts us in life is our training for reigning.

“If we endure, we will also reign with him . . .” 2 Timothy 2:12

WORDsearch

I’m continuing my series of reviews for various Bible software programs. You can see the rest of the series in the Archives under the Reviews category.My plan is to review a different program each week.

The publishers of these programs were gracious enough to send me copies of their software to review on this blog.

Each review will give a rating for various categories along with an image of the software from my computer and the link to the official website where you can see a demo and order the program.

This review is for WORDsearch 10

wordsearch

I tested the program out on my PC using Windows XP.

The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5.

1 is poor. 3 is average. 5 is excellent.

Here’s how I rated WORDsearch 10.[Continue Reading...]

Still Part of the Christian 40-Club & My Birthday Wish

Today is my birthday. And I’m thankful to God for another year of having the privilege of serving Him on this earth.

I’m still part of what someone has called “The Christian 40-Club” … which includes Derwin Gray, Ed Stetzer, Francis Chan, Donald Miller, Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, James K.A. Smith and a host of other Christian authors who are in their 40s.

For those wondering how old I am exactly, someone who knows me well recently made the accurate remark that I’m one year younger than Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt.

That and a quarter will buy me a piece of bubble gum.

Anyways, I’m thankful for many things. And among them are all of you who read this blog, who stimulate my thinking with your comments, and who encourage me in the uncommon journey we share.

When I started writing books, I had no idea that anyone would care to read what I had to say.

I’m still humbled by this every day. So thank you . . . especially those of you who subscribe to this blog and have taken the time to read my books.

I’m very appreciative.

Even so, someone axed me what I’d like for my birthday. My answer . . .[Continue Reading...]

Beyond Opinion

Update: My new book with Len Sweet, Jesus: A Theography (Thomas Nelson, hardcover, 424 pages) is available in hardcover, Kindle, the Nook, and Audiobook (MP3 and CD). You can order these editions by clicking here. Family Christian, Barnes & Noble, and now LifeWay also carry the book.

Before we plunge into today’s topic, here are the top five most popular posts this month:

Jesus & Paul Under Fire and the 2012 USA Presidential Election

Alan Hirsch Responds to Critics Who Misrepresent His Work

Jesus Isn’t Contained in Our Boxes

Remembering the Perfume

What Happened Before the Foundation of the World?

Last month, my Answers to Skeptics series was viewed by countless numbers of people. And it’s turned out to be far more popular than I suspected. Especially the post entitled Is the Bible Reliable?

In my Missional Living post, I listed my top 5 books on defending the gospel.

Since then, I’ve come across a book that I’d add to the list at #6. It’s called Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias. My publisher, Thomas Nelson, released it.

In Beyond Opinion, Zacharias (who was once a Hindu) turns the shredder on high and obliterates common objections to the Christian faith.[Continue Reading...]

Howard Snyder

One of my all-time favorite theologians and historians is Howard Snyder. Snyder is currently a professor at Tyndale Seminary in Canada and served as a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. He’s a prolific author who is known for “thinking outside the box.”

Howard was very kind to endorse two of my books The Untold Story of the New Testament Church (2005) and Pagan Christianity (2008).

Recently, I caught up with Howard to interview him on his prolific work. Should any of these titles interest you, just click on the links and you will be taken to Amazon for the best discounts available. I have most of his books on my bookshelf.

Your book The Community of the King is my favorite title of yours. I like it so much that I selected it as part of my Best 100 Christian Books Ever Written list. Tell us the story behind that book. What motivated you to write it and how did you write it? [Continue Reading...]

Jesus Isn’t Contained in Our Boxes

Update: Jesus: A Theography is now available on Audiobook. Listen to the Introduction for free. Click here to order the Audiobook.

Just when we think we’ve solved Jesus, He turns the tables on us.

Jesus often comes to us in unexpected ways and through unexpected means.

Just think about how He came to Earth. For centuries, Israel had waited for a political Messiah. They expected Him to lead a rebellion and free Israel from Roman oppression.

But how did the Messiah make His entrance into the world? He came in a way that made it easy for His own people to reject Him. He came as a frail baby, born in a feeding room for animals. There He was. The promised Messiah who was expected to overthrow the mighty Roman Empire and set Israel free from Gentile oppression. A needy Nazarene born in a manger.

When Jesus grew up, He ate and drank in their presence and taught in their streets (Luke 13:26). Yet they didn’t recognize who He was. He was unassumingly modest, of humble origin. A mere craftsman; the son of a craftsman.

He grew up in the despised city of Nazareth, fraternizing with the despised and oppressed. But more startling, He befriended sinners (Luke 7:34). As such, the people of God didn’t recognize Him. Why? Because He came in a way that made it easy for them to reject Him.

And what about the disciples? Read the story again. Jesus continued to break out of their expectations. He couldn’t be pinned down, figured out or boxed in. The Twelve were constantly confounded by Him. His teachings were offensive. His actions scandalous. His reactions baffling.[Continue Reading...]

Remembering the Perfume

Recently, Life Today with James Robison published the following excerpt from Jesus: A Theography on their website.

“She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

~ Mark 14:8-9

We tend to forget that crucifixion was the ultimate form of torture. The science of exquisite torture has never been equaled, much less exceeded, than in crucifixion. The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was no exception. Crucifixion was more than an ugliness blotted out by Easter, more than a speed bump on the road to resurrection.

Part of the cruelty of crucifixion was the emotional as well as physical torture.

There is no odor so bad

as that which arises

from goodness tainted.

—Henry David Thoreau

Yes, Jesus’ physical agonies were beyond imagining. But the emotional agonies were even worse—the humiliation of being stripped naked, with all bodily parts and functions exposed for the humiliating gaze of the public; the mixture of blood and sweat and urine and feces and refuse creating a nauseating stench, the smells of death that kept even the families of the crucified at a distance.

But what cut even deeper were the emotional agonies of Jesus’ spirit. The Bible unabashedly testifies to Jesus’ sense of total abandonment, defeat, rejection, and betrayal. In many ways, this was where Jesus was really crucified in spirit. Not on the cross but in the kiss. The cross crucified Him in body. The kiss crucified Him in soul. He was truly despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.

Jesus was really betrayed twice, first by the kiss of Judas, then by something that cut even deeper: the kiss-off of Peter. The disciple who stuck with Jesus the longest after Jesus’ arrest, when accosted by a servant girl in the courtyard of the high priest, denied he knew Him. Before the barnyard cock crowed, the second betrayal took place.

Of Jesus’ closest friends, one denied Him, all betrayed Him, and, save John, all ran away.

Now do you know why Jesus said to remember “her” (the woman who anointed His head with fragrant ointment)?[Continue Reading...]