Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Break

We're going to take a short break from our discussion on The Bait of Satan due to the busyness of the Christmas season. We'll resume our discussion starting with Chapter 8 in just a few weeks. Merry Christmas and remember that "Jesus is the reason for the season."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Bait of Satan - Chapter 7 - Book Discussion

The Bait of Satan, Chapter 7 - The Sure Foundation

This chapter marks our halfway point! Seven chapters down and seven more to go.

In this chapter, the author explains that the revealed Word of God is the foundation or "rock" in which we are to build our Christian lives. The revealed Word of God is an annointing; it comes to us when we open our hearts and receive what God says to us.

It is not just about reading and hearing the Word of God, but actively seeking wisdom from God and listening to what He places on our hearts. When listening to a minister preach or reading a Christian book or the bible, we should pay attention to words that seem to explode in our hearts and spirits.

Jesus used a parable of two houses, one built on a rock and another built on sand to illustrate two different kinds of people. Those whose foundation is built on a rock (the unveiled Word of God) are able to withstand adversity and weather the storms of life. Those whose house is built on the sand will crumble and fall when adversity strikes.

Chapter 7 - Key Points/Bible Verses:

Isaiah 28:16 - I believe the tried stone, the precious cornerstone, the sure foundation in this verse is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the living Word of God. When we have a strong foundation, we will not act in haste, but in wisdom and understanding.

Matthew 16:13, 15 - 17 - Jesus asks His disciples who the crowd is saying He is. He thens asks His disciples who they say He is. Only Simon Peter is able to answer. He says, "You are Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus tells Simon that it was God the Father who revealed Jesus' correct identity to him. Simon's answer was not based on the opinions of other people or by what he was taught.

1 John 2:27 - The annointing that we have received from God is within in us and teaches us.

Matthew 16:18 - Jesus will build His church on the rock, the foundation, the revealed Word of God. In this verse, Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter. The name Simon means "to hear" and the name Peter is derived from the Greek word "petros" which means "a stone." As the result of hearing the revealed Word of God, Simon became the substance of which a foundation is built with.

Psalm 119:130 - When His Word enters our hearts, it gives light and understanding.

Mark 4:16-17 - A repeat from previous chapters, that those who are not rooted or have a strong foundation are easily swayed and offended.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 24 - This verse explains the covenant of marriage. We are to stay with our spouse even if we were not a Christian when we were married and did not seek the counsel of the Lord when selecting a marriage partner.

1 Peter 2:5 - We are living stones. Stones are small pieces of a large rock.

1 Corinthians 3:11 - Jesus is the living Word of God; He is our foundation.

John 5:16 & John 6:15 - Jesus was being persecuted by religious leaders and the Jews. When His followers wanted to make Him king by force, He refused and walked away, which caused many of His followers to became offended.

John 6:53, 60, 61, 66 - Many of Jesus' followers didn't understand the statement He made in John 6:53, and therefore, became offended. After that, many of His disciples (but none of the original 12) refused to follow Him anymore. Those followers did not have the foundation of the revealed Word of God.

John 6:67-69 - Jesus confronts His 12 disciples and asks them if they, too, want to leave. Simon Peter once again confirms that he knows Jesus to be the son of God. In the face of adversity, Simon Peter stands firm in his beliefs and refuses to cave.

Day 13 and Day 14 - Devotionals: Days 13 & 14, in the devotional at the back of the book, cover Chapter 7 of The Bait of Satan.

How does the Word illuminate your life weekly? Check each of the following ways you hear God's voice for your life?

I checked: bible study, bible reading, preaching, teaching, reading Christian books.

When you hear a Word from God that contradicts a feeling, thought or behavior, what is your immediate response? Prioritize from most often (1) to least often (7):

I get angry: 5
I am confused: 2
I feel hurt: 3
I repent: 5
I rejoice in learning what God is saying: 3
I get offended: 4
I blame others or God: 6

Write a prayer thanking God for His Word and the many ways to illuminate it for your life:

Dear Father, Thank you for providing us with your steadfast Word. Help me to keep my heart open to hearing from You. Please bless me with wisdom and understanding. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Describe a time in your life when you took offense at the Word and did not obey. What were the consequences?

It's hard for me to think of a specific instance off hand, but what comes to mind is that until recently, I never took obedience to God's Word seriously. Throughout most of my life, I did what I wanted and that lifestyle came with some serious consequences. I would say the dominant consequences have been guilt, regret, and damaged relationships. I regret that I can never erase my actions or my words and have often felt plagued with guilt because of the sins I committed. However, I realize that through repentence, the blood of Jesus has washed away my sins and He has forgiven me.

Have you attempted to build a house on the sandy foundations of this world's system? Check any of the wordly foundations listed below that you have been tempted to use. Briefly describe the result:

I checked money, success, power, and possessions. These things were all important to me in my young adult years, however, I have found that nothing in life is permanent and that these things do not bring happiness. Everything here belongs to God and He has the authority to give and take at any given time. Therefore, I realize that I cannot base my happiness and spiritual well-being on things of this world.

Write a prayer asking God's Spirit to reveal His Word to you and to help you to build your life upon the Rock of Christ:

Dear Father, I open my heart to You and ask You to speak to me and reveal your Word to me. I believe that I have a good start in building my life upon the Rock. Please help me to stay strong and stand firm and to be like the house that was built on the rock. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Chapter 7 - My Thoughts

I love the story of Simon Peter. I love how he was so deeply rooted in his faith that when many of Jesus' followers left in offense, Simon Peter stood fast and firm. I love how Jesus recognized that in Simon Peter and gave him a new name.

Looking back on my life, I can see where many times I have abandoned my beliefs in order to be part of the popular majority. What actually comes to mind as I write this is a situation at my son's wedding this past year. My son made a specific request, which I passed onto others, and many people in my family did not honor it. Instead of speaking up about it, I chose to "keep the peace" by not saying anything. Looking back, I wish that I would have confronted those people, gently, but firmly.

I don't believe that I am carrying offense in my heart about this situation, I just wish that I had chosen to handle it in the way that I believe God would have wanted me to handle it. I know that I will face situations similar to this one in the future, and I pray that I will stand firm and strong and not waver.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Bait of Satan - Chapter 6 - Book Discussion

The Bait of Satan, Chapter 6 - Hiding From Reality

The author states that we should not leave a church out of offense, but wait upon the Spirit's leading so that we can depart peacefully without offense. The decision to leave a church depends on the will of God, not on the condition of the church, or how bad things are, or the behavior of other people.

You will know that you are released when you are at peace and don't feel the need to justify your departure to others.

We become children, or "teknon" of God when we receive Jesus as our Lord. "Teknon" means babies or immature sons. Baby/immature Christians are unlikely to follow the leading of the Spirit and tend to react selfishly to circumstances.

We become "huios," or mature sons, when we follow the leading of the Spirit instead of our own will.

Spiritual maturity and growth come as the result of obedience. We often flee from experiences that would cause us to grow spiritually, develop character, and heal hurts, because it's painful and uncomfortable for us. It means swallowing our pride and becoming humble, something that our flesh rebels against.

Sometimes God will release us from doing His will if we are intent on following our own will. However, as long as we are avoiding God's will, we will continue through the cycle of offense and remain trapped. The problem will not go away and, in fact, will affect other relationships. We can only be healed when we face the problem and seek healing and forgiveness.

Chapter 6 - Key Points/Bible Verses:

2 Timothy 3:7 - Some Christians never come to the knowledge of truth because they don't apply what they learn to their lives.

Isaiah 55:12 - When God instructs you to leave a church, you will go out in peace, regardless of the condition of the church.

Romans 8:15 - 16 - The word "children" in this verse is based on the Greek word, "teknon," which means a child by birth, or babies or immature sons. We become "teknon" of God by accepting Christ as our Savior.

Romans 8:14 - The word "sons" in this verse is based on the Greek word, "huios," which means one who can be identified as a son because he displays the characteristics of his parents. We become "huios" through spiritual maturity.

Hebrews 5:8 - Jesus was already a "huios," but learned obedience through the things He suffered.

1 Peter 4:1 - When we cease sinning, we become a mature Christian, choosing God's ways over our own.

John 20:23 - When we don't forgive others, we are holding on to offense.

1 Kings 18-19 - Sometimes God will allow us to flee a situation if our heart is set on it, even if it's against His will. God allowed Elijah to flee from Jezebel even though it was God's desire for Elijah to face her. God's will was then fulfilled in people other than Elijah.

Numbers 22 - Balaam's intent to follow his own desire was unshakable and caused God to release him.

Day 11 and Day 12 - Devotionals: Days 11 & 12, in the devotional at the back of the book, cover Chapter 6 of The Bait of Satan.

Describe a time when God released you from a church and allowed you to maintain peaceful relationships until you left.

This is not applicable to my situation.

What are you learning about suffering and obedience right now in the church in which you find yourself? How are you growing in your attitudes, thoughts and emotions so as to avoid taking up offense against others or God when you face suffering or are required to fulfill obedience?

Again, since I don't physically attend a church, but watch on TV from home, this really doesn't apply to me.

Complete the following sentences:

When I suffer, I respond: by feeling sorry for myself.

When I must obey, my attitude is: sometimes humble, sometimes rebellious.

Write a prayer surrendering all in obedience to God and offering yourself as a vessel willing to suffer for Christ:

Dear Father, Help me to be obedient to you, even when it means leaving my comfort zone. Give me the strength to stand alone when obeying you makes me unpopular with others. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Read the following verses and jot down what they say to you about judging and blaming others:

Matthew 7:1-5 - The manner in which we judge others is the manner in which God will judge us.

Matthew 5:21-26 - We are not to hold anger against other people in our hearts. We need to seek peace and forgiveness.

Luke 6:36-37 - We are to be merciful to others as God is merciful to us.

Romans 2:1-2 - We should not judge others, for many of the things we judge we, ourselves, are guilty of.

Romans 12:17- 21 - Repay evil with good. Be kind to your enemies. Do not take revenge.

Romans 14:10-13 - Do not judge others. We will all stand before the judgement seat.

James 4:11-12 - Do not judge or speak evil of others.

Write a prayer asking for God's help to face offenses and not run from them:

Dear Father, Help me face offenses so that I can grow spiritually and become a mature Christian. I understand that as much as I hate adversity, it is necessary for me to grow and become more like You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Chapter 6 - My Thoughts

This chapter was a clarifier for me. In Chapter 5, I had perceived that the author was telling us that we aren't to leave a church for any reason. In actuality, he is saying that shouldn't leave a church out of offense, but wait for God to release us from that church if that is what His desire is. That makes sense to me!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

2007 Shoebox - Operation Christmas Child

Today, me and my son, Cody, put together a shoebox for a boy in the 10 - 14 age range. This shoebox was for Operation Christmas Child, a project run by Samaritan's Purse.

We had so much fun picking out items for the shoebox. The items we ended up selecting were:

  • a long sleeved t-shirt
  • toothbrush & toothpaste
  • a bar of soap
  • a washcloth and handtowel
  • a package of mechanical pencils
  • a solar calculator
  • a package of 2 small notebooks
  • 2 decks of playing cards
  • and a Rubik's Cube

Cody and I pondered as to who would receive the shoebox and what area of the world it will end up at. Regardless, we prayed that whoever receives it will be greatly blessed by it. Cody and I certainly were blessed by the quality time we spent together in selecting items and packing the shoebox and knowing that we were doing something worthwhile.

Here is a picture of Cody with our packed shoebox. See ya next year!

The Bait of Satan - Chapter 5 - Book Discussion

The Bait of Satan, Chapter 5 - How Spiritual Vagabonds Are Born

In Chapter 5 of The Bait of Satan, we are dealing with leadership, particularly leadership in the church and in ministries.

We begin this chapter by quickly reviewing what we learned in Chapter 4. David could have taken the life of Saul, and it appeared that he would have been justified in doing so. Instead, he rightly chose not kill Saul and allowed God to justly deal with the situation.

We often look to avenge ourselves in our own way and in our own terms rather than allowing God to avenge us. God will often place us in situations where it appears that we are justified in avenging ourselves. He does this in order to test our obendience. We are to remember that God commands us not to seek revenge.

While we are to correct those we are in a leadership position over, we are not to correct those in authority over us (church leaders, pastors, ministry leaders, etc.)

It is imperative that we stay where God plants us so that we can grow and flourish (God wants us to stay in the church he has planted us in.) We are to face adversity by deepening our roots and relying on Him for strength. He does not desire for us to uproot ourselves and flee the situation. Eventually, as we grow and strengthen, adversity, tribulation and persecution will actually cause us to bear fruit.

If we flee adversity and refuse to face conflicts, we become spiritual vagabonds, darting from place to place (church to church) rootless and unable to bear fruit. We become suspicious and believe that everyone is out to get us. We isolate ourselves and continue in the same cycle of offense over and over again.

Chapter 5 - Key Points/Bible Verses:

1 Samuel 24:6 - 7 - God tested David to see if he would take Saul's life. From a human perspective, David would have been justified in doing so. From God's perspective, only He is to seek vengeance.

Romans 12:19 - God orders us not to avenge ourselves; He will avenge us.

1 Samuel 2-5 - God put Samuel under the authority of Eli and Eli's sons, all of whom were corrupt.

1 Samuel 3:1 - Samuel ministered to the Lord and served Eli and did not judge him. He knew that God was capable of judging and dealing with His own.

Isaiah 55:12 - If we are to leave a church, we are to leave in joy and peace, not in offense.

1 Corinthians 12:18 - God has placed us in the church He wants us to be in.

Proverbs 26:20 - Even when the correct information is being passed around, it tends to add fuel to the fire of offense.

Psalm 92:13 - You can only flourish if you stay where God has planted you. When trees and plants are faced with the harsh elements, they deepen their roots which makes them stronger and more durable. We are to do the same when faced with adversity.

Luke 13:6-9 - God does not want us to be like a tree that does not bear fruit.

Psalm 1:1-2 - Choosing to meditate on the law of God during adversity will keep us from offense.

Psalm 119:165 - Loving the law of God will keep us on the right path and prevent us from being offended.

Psalm 1:3 - When we meditate on the law of God, our roots will deepen and seek nourishment and strength from the Spirit. We will be like a tree that bears fruit and prospers.

Mark 4:16-17 - Those without roots will stumble when faced with adversity or persecution.

Genesis 4:11-12 - God told Cain the ground he tilled would be barren and fruitless because he sinned and murdered his brother; When living in offense, Christians also cut off their ability to bear fruit. God told Cain he would become a fugitive and a vagabond; Offended Christians also become fugitives and vagabonds by purposely isolating themselves from others.

Genesis 4:14 - Cain became a vagabond with an "everyone's out to get me" mentality. Offended people have the same mindset.

Proverbs 18:1 - When we isolate ourselves from others, we seek after our own selfish desires, not Gods.

Day 9 and Day 10 - Devotionals:

Days 9 & 10, in the devotional at the back of the book, cover Chapter 5 of The Bait of Satan.

Day 9

Think of a time when you took vengeance into your own hands and did not wait upon God. Describe the situation and its outcome or consequences.

I'm really not one to take revenge or to try to get even. My dominant reaction to offense is to shut people out, and at the extreme level, refuse to have anything to do with them. Anytime that I have refused a relationship with someone has resulted in years of bitterness and resentment at my own hands.

Give yourself the following test:

1. Do I run from God's refining power? We are only given the choices of yes or no, but in this case, I have to answer sometimes.
2. Do I complain when under pressure? Again, sometimes, depending on what the situation is. I'm working on it.
3. Do I justify my sin and condemn sin in others. Sometimes.
4. Do I expect spiritual leaders to be perfect when I am not? No.
5. Am I willing to listen to God and wait on His leading? Yes.
6. Read Isaiah 55:12. Am I willing to live in peace? Yes.

Write a prayer asking Jesus to be your perfect Shepherd and to fill you with His love for the human shepherds He has placed in your life.

Dear Jesus, You are my perfect Shepherd and no person can come close to comparing to your goodness and righteousness. Help me to love and respect the human shepherds that you have placed in my life despite their shortcomings. Amen.

Day 10

List all the churches to which you have belonged in the past 10 years:

I have not belonged to a church since young adulthood. I have made the choice to no longer attend a physical church primarily because I am hard of hearing and unable to follow along at a regular church service. I take advantage of ministries on TV that offer closed captioning. I consider myself to be a member of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, because John Hagee is my preferred TV minister and because I was baptized by his church last summer.

If you have changed churches, why?

When I was 20, I left the church that I had attended since age 11 due to a number of reasons:

  • I believed that the church taught and pushed doctrine that wasn't biblically-based.

  • The youth pastor at the church had a tendency to hang out with the popular kids and ignored the not-so-popular kids (the group I was in). He had personally treated me rudely a number of times.

  • Most of the church members were rude and snobbish and I perceived they looked down on me.

  • The church seemed money-focused and not Christ-focused.

I felt that I was stagnant in that church. I dreaded going and eventually just quit going at all. In truth, by leaving that church, I also left my faith behind for a number of years.

Looking back, it is obvious that I was offended by the behavior of people in leadership and other members, but I also feel that it was more than just offense. It was a situation where the church put it's own beliefs and doctrine above the Bible. And while giving and tithing is indeed very important, the church chose to focus on money issues far more than teaching the Word of God.

Read the following scriptures, and then jot down what they have to say about the relationship between God's law, offense, spiritual growth and bearing fruit.

Psalm 1:1-3 - He who delights in the law of God and meditates on it day and night will be like a properous tree that bears fruit.

Psalm 119:165 - Great peace comes to those who love the law of God and nothing causes them to stumble.

Mark 4:16-17 - Those without roots endure for only a short time, then stumble when tribulation or persecution strikes.

List 5 benefits that come to you when you refuse to take up an offense and are planted in a church fellowship:

1. We will grow spiritually.
2. We will deepen our roots and become stable or grounded.
3. We will not stumble and we will be able to face adversity.
4. We will bear fruit and prosper.
5. We will rely on God for strength.

Write a prayer thanking God for the church He has planted you in and asking Him to mature and prosper you there.

Dear Father, while I am not able to physically attend Cornerstone church, I do consider myself to be a member of that church and I believe You have a reason for placing me in that church. Help me to stand strong and allow my roots to grow deeply there. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Chapter 5 - My Thoughts

While I do agree with most of what the author says in this chapter, and appreciate his insight, I question his teaching that we should stay in a church no matter what. What if the teachings of the church are not biblically-based? What if the church is consistently caving into political-correctness? What if there is clergy sex abuse in the church?

Perhaps these situations are outside the scope of offense that John Bevere is covering right now. Or maybe he is saying that we are to stay in our church even if these things are occuring. After all, he did bring up the fact that Eli's sons were committing fornication with the women assembled at the door of the tabernacle, which I guess would be comparible to clergy sex abuse.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom or insight on this issue?

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Bait of Satan - Chapter 4 - Book Discussion

The Bait of Satan, Chapter 4 - My Father, My Father!
In Chapter 4 of The Bait of Satan we learn about dealing with offenses from fathers and father figures by studying King Saul's betrayal of David, found in 1 Samuel 16-31.

The story begins with the prophet Samuel anointing David to be the next king of Israel, though at the time he was just a shepherd boy. Soon after, David was called to the palace to play his harp in order to soothe Saul's soul which was being tormented by an evil spirit (Saul was out of God's will due to his disobedience). This allowed David to get his foot in the palace door, so to speak.

David experienced more favor with Saul when he killed Goliath. In doing so, he also won Saul's daughter's hand in marriage and moved to the palace. It seemed like everything was going well for young David and that God's plan was in place to make David the next king.

Then everything changed one day when David and Saul returned together from a successful battle. The women of Israel sang, "Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands." Saul immediately became jealous of David and despised him. The rest of Saul's life was spent hunting David down and trying to kill him.

David had several chances to kill Saul and chose not to. He desired to be reconciled with Saul to the very end. When David found out who killed Saul in battle, David sentenced that man to death. After Saul's death, David continued to remained loyal to him by showing kindness to his descendants and by writing a song that honored Saul and his sons.

Chapter 4 - Key Points/Bible Verses:

1 Samuel 24:11 - David wonders why Saul continues to try to kill him even though he has proved to Saul that he has no evil intentions against him.

Malachi 4:6 - God wants fathers to turn their hearts to their children.

1 Samuel 26:8 - David's friend Abishai wants to kill Saul when they were able to sneak up on him during the night when God put all Saul's guards into a deep sleep.

1 Samuel 26:9-11 - Even though God had given David the opportunity to kill Saul by putting all Saul's guards into a deep sleep and allowing David and Abishai to sneak up on Saul, David refused to kill him. He left it in God's hands.

Proverbs 18:21 - We no longer kill each other with swords, but instead ravage each other through the sword of our tongue.

Proverbs 6:16-19 - When we speak things to others with the intention of damaging relationships, even if it is true, it is an abomination to God.

2 Samuel 1:14-15 - David ordered death to the man that killed Saul.

Day 7 and Day 8 - Devotionals:

Days 7 & 8, in the devotional at the back of the book, cover Chapter 4 of The Bait of Satan.

Day 7

Think of the "fathers" in the past from whom you have experienced rejection. Circle any who have rejected or hurt you:

I circled: Biological father, Stepfather, Pastor, Church Staff, and Teacher.

One biblical example of a father's rejection was Saul's rejection of David. Carefully read pages 34 - 36 of The Bait of Satan. As you read, jot down all the ways David could have been tempted to take up an offense from Saul:

- Saul tried to kill David twice while David played the harp for him.

- David was forced into the wilderness and had to hide in caves from Saul.

- Saul killed 85 innocent priests and the entire city of Nob when he found out they had been hospitable to David.

- David proved to Saul that he meant him no harm when he cut a piece from Saul's robe when instead he could have killed Saul or harmed him. Even knowing this, Saul still sought to kill David.

Now complete these sentences:

David treated Saul: compassionately, with love and respect.

Instead of revenge, David: sought reconciliation.

Read 1 Samuel 24:11 and then complete these sentences:

When someone attacks me, God wants me to: humble myself before them and try to make things right with them.

When someone rejects me, God wants me to: seek restoration and reconciliation through forgiveness.

Write a prayer asking God to work in the lives of your father figures and enable you to pray for them and forgive their faults:

Dear Father, Please help me to pray for and sincerely forgive the father figures in my life who have wronged me. Please work in both their hearts and mine. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Day 8

Look over the following list. Check whether or not you believe that Saul should have received the death penalty for such a crime:

1. Saul had murdered 85 innocent priests and their families (multiple counts of first-degree murder):

2. Saul, along with three thousand men, attempted in every possible way to kill David and his men (multiple counts of attempted murder): I checked DESERVING OF DEATH

3. Saul continued to function as king even when the anointing to rule had been taken from him and given to David: I checked DESERVING OF PUNISHMENT

4. Saul lied about David, sought to turn everyone against David, and broke his promises to David: I checked DESERVING OF PUNISHMENT

Write a prayer asking God to humble yourself before those who offend you and to ask for forgiveness:

Dear Father, please help me to rid myself of my prideful ways and humble myself before You and those who offend me. Help me to ask for forgiveness. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Chapter 4 - My Thoughts

I'm in awe of David's compassion and love for a man who despised him and attempted to murder him almost every chance he got.

It was huge for me to learn in this chapter that God will put us in circumstances that will test us to reveal the true condition of our hearts. When God put Saul's entire army to sleep and allowed David and Abishai to sneak up on Saul, it seemed like God was giving David the perfect opportunity to kill Saul. It seemed so absolutely crystal clear that it was God's will for David to take Saul's life! But David refused, and in doing so, proved the purity of his heart. He passed the test with flying colors! It's easy to see why David was called "a man after God's own heart."

I have had major issues with the father figures in my life. I spent many, many years living with anger and bitterness in my heart, but I did reach a point in my life when I realized I needed to forgive and let go of the bitterness. While these relationships have mostly been restored, I fully recognize that I have a long way to go before I can love these men to the same extent that David loved Saul.

How about you? Do you think you can love the fathers and father figures in your life the way that David loved Saul?

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

FREE Ebook - Miss Humbug

Miss Humbug is a short story about power executive, Elaina Houston, who wants nothing to do with Christmas. Instead, Elaina consumes herself with work in order to block out the pain of a tragic event that occurred on a Christmas Eve 12 years ago.

Then one cold December night, everything changes, and unless Elaina learns to open her heart and capture the true Spirit of Christmas, she will not live to see another December 25th.

My Review of Miss Humbug:

I have nothing but nice things to say about this FREE 55-page PDF ebook written by Marnie Pehrson. The story is engaging. The plot is cleverly written. The characters are interesting, likeable, and easy to relate to. It's a little bit of mystery, a touch of romance, and a life-changing lesson all bundled together into a story that only takes about an hour to read.

When I was a child, Christmas was a magical time of year. I have so many fond memories of Christmas during my childhood years...baking cookies with my mom, going to the Christmas display at Dayton's in downtown Minneapolis with my grandma, and watching the Christmas specials on TV with my family.

Then I grew up and everything changed. Christmas went from magical to stressful and I began to dread the holiday season. While Elaina's reason for disliking Christmas is different than mine, I could definitely relate to her anti-Christmas Spirit.

Miss Humbug is a heart-warming story with an important message that all of us need to hear...and that is that we need to once again capture the true Spirit of Christmas. It's not about extravagant gifts, holiday parties or sparkling decorations. The true Spirit of Christmas is about love, laughter, family, peace, unity, warmth, generosity, forgiveness and kindness!

Download your free copy at And may the true Spirit of Christmas be with you and your loved ones this holiday season!

If you liked Miss Humbug, you will like Marnie's other books. Find them at and

11/12/07 - The paperback version of Miss Humbug is now available at

Sunday, November 4, 2007

"Taking Offense" Article

Today I received a devotional from Life Today called "Taking Offense" by Randy Robison. This devotional compliments our study on The Bait of Satan by giving us an excellent, real-life example of how people often perceive that they are being offended when they really are not.

With the author's permission, I have republished his devotional in full below:

Taking Offense by Randy Robison

“A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11)

Recently, Cody Goodnight walked into a Family Dollar store in east Fort Worth to buy a couple of sodas for his five-year-old son and himself. The clerk, Ricky Young, had some difficulty with the scanner and attempted to make small talk while handling the register. Cody did not respond.

Once the sodas rang up, Cody paid in cash. Ricky felt insulted for being ignored, so he threw the change at Cody, scattering it on the floor. The 31-year-old father bent down to pick it up and at that point, Ricky later told police, muttered a racial slur and threatened him. So Ricky picked up a crowbar from behind the register and clubbed the man behind the ear.

Cody left the store without a word, went home and reported the incident to his mother. She and her husband contacted the police. When officers arrived at the discount store, Ricky was still working. They checked the surveillance video, but it had mysteriously been erased. They took Ricky’s statement claiming racism and self-defense and then informed him of one significant fact.

Cody Goodnight is deaf. When Cody was a toddler, high fever robbed him of his ability to hear. He can make guttural noises, but tries to maintain silence because people have made fun of him. He communicates via sign language.

"When you're deaf, you don't make a point of starting conversations with people," Cody’s mother said. Yet at least one person took offense at this deaf man’s behavior, misconstruing it for disrespect.

Often we take offense -- even when it’s not ours to take. Offense will come our way. We don’t have to go looking for it. When we do, we find offense in places where there is little or no cause for it. This is not simply foolishness, it is dangerous. It can lead to an overblown sense of victimization. Those who constantly take offense begin to feel as if life is not fair or that the world is out to get them. This mindset is diametrically opposed to Jesus declaration that Christians should “rejoice and be glad” when persecuted by the world (Matthew 5:11-12).

Dennis Prager, a brilliant author, lecturer and radio host, calls victimhood “the greatest single cause of evil.” He points out that Nazism arose from a sense of German victimhood, communism from a belief that the working man is the victim and Islamism from the idea that Muslims are victims of an oppressive Jewish-American conspiracy.

“The preoccupation of much of America with telling whole groups that they are victims -- of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and classism, among other American sins -- can only increase cruelty and evil in America,” Prager asserts.

Christians should not give in to the temptation to play the social martyr. We should stand up for our beliefs and defend the assaults on our faith, but never look for reasons to take offense. To the contrary, we must proactively forgive those who offend us, whether that offense is real or merely perceived. Otherwise, we play the part of the angry, bitter, reactionary victim. In that state of mind, we cannot respond with patience and love. Instead, we respond in a manner that genuinely gives offense.

This is true in society, church and family. Taking offense leads to conflict, strife and separation. It is the tool of the enemy. If we are to rise above the sins of this world and truly shine the light of Jesus Christ, we must move beyond giving or taking offense.

This Week: Forgive those who have offended you, just as God forgives our offenses. Resist the temptation to give in to the offenses of the world.

Prayer: “Father, forgive my trespasses, as I forgive those who trespass against me. Help me resist the temptation of victimhood, so that I can be delivered from anger, bitterness and vengeance. Give me your patience and grace so I can radiate your life and love.”

To read about Cody Goodnight’s progress since his attack, visit