Because of Genesis 3, we aren’t surprised by the brokenness, depravity, pain, and sorrow around us. Even creation is groaning, awaiting the day when it will be freed and all things will be made new. And perhaps one of the greatest effects of the fall is the hostility present in so many of our relationships and institutions. We need not look much further than our social media feeds to see this divide. And it could be easy to say it’s out there and not in here—in the church. Our division is pervasive. But Genesis 3 didn’t have the last word; Jesus defeated sin and death through the cross and resurrection. And although we wait for his return in a world filled with hate and despair, there are many glimpses of beauty, joy, reconciliation, and love all around.
This week in the U.S.—election week—has the potential to widen the divide we already see and feel, but we don’t have to let it. Not only can we resist the temptation to engage in the foray, we can actively show a better way. That’s why I’m excited to invite you to enter to win a few prizes while also highlighting the beauty and stories of reconciliation.
What would happen if we filled our social media feeds with stories and pictures of hope and reconciliation? That’s what I’d like to see. This won’t end all the divide in the world but perhaps it will bring a little joy.
What are the prizes?
1) My kids’ book God’s Very Good Idea: I’m grateful for how the Lord is using this little book. God has been faithful to answer my prayer that it would not only help children understand the gospel and the command to love others different from them but that parents, students, and teachers would be inspired and challenged too! I hope it might be shared with as many people as possible so I can’t wait to give it away! Five people will have a chance to win one copy of God’s Very Good Idea.
2) Two tickets to the Just Gospel conference: My friends over at The Front Porch are hosting their incredible conference called Just Gospel and this year’s theme is all about reconciliation. They have graciously offered two tickets to the conference! One personwill wintwo tickets. You won’t want to miss this. Hope to see you there!
How to enter:
Post a picture or story that highlights hope or reconciliation to Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter using both of these hashtags: #GodsVeryGoodIdeagiveaway AND #ReconcileusOLord
Giveaway begins today (11/5) and ends Saturday, November 10 at midnight.
Please don’t forget the hashtags as it is the only way I’ll be able to enter you into the giveaway. Copy and paste them to make it easier: #GodsVeryGoodIdeagiveaway #ReconcileusOLord
Six people will win: 1 person will win two tickets to the Just Gospel ’19 and 5 people will win one copy of God’s Very Good Idea. You can post as many times as you’d like, as long as you use the hashtag, you will be entered.
Examples of pictures and stories:
I imagine some of you may have trouble envisioning what I mean and so I wanted to provide a few examples. These are pictures that have brought me a particular joy in the midst of what seems like hopelessness in the world. These are only examples. Please own it and share whatever you think represents hope and reconciliation.
Story example (best for Instagram or Facebook):
My husband and I are an interracial couple. We have the opportunity to display what the gospel achieved every single day (Eph 2). But we also experienced two broken engagements before we married. Our story is one of true redemption and grace. We were not Christians when we met. The Lord saved us after our broken engagements and then a few years later, we got back together. God reconciled us first to himself and then to one another. We have now been married for 15 years! #ReconcileUsOLord #GodsVeryGoodIdeagiveaway
A few picture examples:
Remember to make it your own! Share whatever you think is an example of hope and reconciliation. Looking forward to reading your stories and viewing your pictures. #ReconcileUsOLord #GodsVeryGoodIdeaGiveaway
Special thank you to Thabiti Anyabwile and the Front Porch:
Pictures in gallery from left to right: Row 1) President Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama; A picture from God’s Very Good Idea; and Me and my two dear friends. Row 2) A story of how a Black pastor shared the gospel with and befriended an old KKK member; a picture by Anthony Cheatham; a picture from God’s Very Good Idea
We are a little over halfway through the 40-Day (Birthday) Challenge! Each week* I will be giving away books and other great prizes as part of our celebration. Today’s exciting giveaway comes from my friends and the publisher of God’s Very Good Idea, The Good Book Company.
Three participants in the challenge have a chance to win these NEW books: The Dignity Revolution by Daniel Darling; Real by Catherine Parks; and a kids’ book The Friend who Forgives by Dan DeWitt. (Find out more about the books at the end of this post.)
I’m so very grateful to The Good Book Company for these gifts and their commitment to solid, biblical content.
I will draw three names from the Facebook group and announce the winners in the Facebook group on Saturday, August 25. The drawing ends on Saturday at 6:00 a.m. To win a prize you must*join the Facebook group (please commit to doing at least one week of the challenge if you join in hopes to win).
As Christians, we want to make a difference in this world. We want to have an impact not only on our immediate family and community, but on wider social issues. We want to protect the vulnerable and engage with the issues that really matter. But how?
This book shows us how wonderful, liberating and empowering it is to be made in God’s image. It will change how we see ourselves and other people.
Some will feel the call to run for office… others will roll up their sleeves and join the good work of non-profit ministry… and others might simply find little ways to incorporate this vision of human dignity into their everyday lives, and change their community one word, one action, one person at a time.
Dan Darling shows us that each one of us can be, and are called to be, part of this new movement—a human dignity revolution that our societies desperately need, and how we—you—are uniquely placed to join.
This compelling book shows you how to join the dignity revolution.
Every woman longs for authentic friendships with others—but in a world of carefully-curated social media, most of us are merely keeping up appearances. Both online and offline, we’re all prone to only presenting the best side of ourselves.
This book shows us that the secret to growing the relationships we crave is in developing a biblical habit of repentance. By being honest about our sin before God and receiving his forgiveness, we’re freed be honest about our sin with others. When we drop the act and allow ourselves to be vulnerable by sharing our struggles, not only are we strengthened in our fight against sin, but we experience authentic fellowship and real friendship.
Catherine Parks empowers women to fight side by side against their sin, and shows how by getting real about our struggles, we can create genuine community in an “I’m fine” culture.
This book is great for reading with your book group, women’s group, accountability partner, or one-to-one mentor—discussion questions are included for every chapter.
Do you ever talk before you think? Mess up? Let others down? That’s what Peter did, again and again and again, and it led him to abandoning his best friend, Jesus.
Peter loved Jesus. He felt terrible when he pretended not to know him. He thought all was lost when Jesus died.
But Jesus is not like our other friends. He wants to forgive us when we are really sorry, even when we mess up again and again and again. And because Jesus died and rose again, he can. Jesus’ death took the punishment for all of Peter’s mistakes and all our mistakes, and his resurrection showed the penalty was lifted.
After he rose from the dead, Jesus went and found Peter and forgave him, and he can do the same for us. Peter spent the rest of his life telling people that if they put their trust in Jesus, they could be forgiven too—again and again and again.
Children know all about failing, but they don’t always experience true forgiveness. This book points them to Jesus, the Friend who will forgive them again and again and again.
*Due to the size of a few gifts, I may skip a week.
*During one day of the challenge, I may open the gifts up to those not in the Facebook group. But for now, the only way to enter weekly prizes is by joining the group. Although it is noted above, I’d like to ask again that you attempt the challenge for at least for one week rather than joining the Facebook group only for the prize. It has been a blast! Thank you so much!
When I first thought of the 40-Day (Birthday) Challenge, I was concerned that it might be silly or not serious enough given that I write often about serious matters. I quickly remembered an old post I wrote on being a serious Christian and wondered if that ugly sin of the fear of man was motivating my questioning. As I’ve participated and read comments and interactions from the men and women participating through the Facebook group, I’ve realized how the Lord is already using this challenge to restore joy, enable “self-forgetfulness” and thus a focus on others, and build habits of spiritual disciplines. That was my prayer before it launched and I believe the Lord is already answering it!
Each week I will be giving away books and other great prizes as part of our celebration. Yesterday I announced the winners of Crossway’s new Inductive NT and New Testament Scripture Journals. Today, I’m excited to give away a pile of books (see them listed below)!
Today’s giveaway is sponsored by my bookshelf! I often have duplicate copies of books and thought what better way to dwindle down my ever- increasing stack than to give them to you!
I will draw five names from the Facebook group and announce the winners in the Facebook group on Thursday, August 9. The drawing ends on Thursday (8/9) at 6:00 a.m. To win a prize you must*join the Facebook group (please commit to doing at least one week of the challenge if you join in hopes to win).
Also, don’t forget today’s challenge: Write an encouraging note to someone!
More about the prizes:
Feel free to click on these links to learn more about each book from their Amazon pages!
*During one day of the challenge, I may open the gifts up to those not in the Facebook group. But for now, the only way to enter weekly prizes is by joining the group. Although it is noted above, I’d like to ask again that you attempt the challenge for at least for one week rather than joining the Facebook group only for the prize. Thank you so much!
In a little over a month, I’ll be turning the big 4-0. I do not dread the years to come. I absolutely feel older—both in body and mind. My body feels aches like never before while my mind seems to be sharper. Most importantly, I sense in unique ways the nearness of God. I imagine, as there have been every decade, that I will experience both joys and deep sorrows. God has been faithful—it is my song. I trust He will be faithful over these next years, too. I’m excited and grateful.
But today is less about reflecting and more about celebrating! And I’d love to invite you to join me.
In celebration of my 40th birthday, I’d like to invite you to my 40-Day Birthday Challenge. For 40 days beginning Saturday, July 28 and ending on September 7, we are going to complete various activities, random acts of kindness, spiritual disciplines, and goals.
You can choose what you do from my list of 40 things (below) and do or start one per day. A few of these things are meant to help us begin new habits as well, like daily Bible reading and prayer. I will be going straight down the list.
And because it’s a celebration and an online birthday party, I’d also like to give away prizes throughout the 40 days. In order to be entered to win, simply join my 40-Day Birthday Challenge Facebook group. Each week I’ll draw names from that group and announce the prizes.
A brief introduction to the book and why we are studying it. What exactly does it mean to be spiritually healthy?
Thoughts on how and why we can be honest about how we are doing.
Brief reflections on Romans 8: 28-31.
A reminder of why you and I desire to be conformed to the image of Christ and where our strength for the fight comes from.
Please note that because this was an introduction, the length of the video is slightly longer than future videos. Expect to join me for about 5 minutes each Thursday.
A Book Giveaway!
To help you get started, the Good Book Company has partnered with me to giveaway three e-books! All you need to do is comment on my site or on my Facebook page. That’s it. Simply comment below or comment on my Facebook page and you’ll be entered into the giveaway!
The majority of the time, open letters are meant as a critique. This is not that. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even come close. Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect in greater ways on the labors of those who are working in children’s ministry: church, camps, and beyond. I have always served in children’s ministry, though much less over the past three years than ever before, but it’s been a part of my ministry work since becoming a Christian. It wasn’t until writing and releasing God’s Very Good Idea, however, that the weight of what you do week after week fully hit me.
I’ve never met a children’s ministry worker who wasn’t aware of the privilege of his/her job. Now this doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, but most of the people I’ve interacted with are eager and excited to share the Word with the little hearts and minds entrusted to their care. You, friend, are not a glorified babysitter. The work you do has significant impact on the kingdom. It is no small thing. Each lesson, coloring page, prayer huddle, and diaper change is helping children learn either about Jesus or about the effect of the Spirit in one’s life that would cause them to serve others above themselves.
As someone who has ministered to mostly adults, especially over the last few years, there can be times when we see the effects of our ministry immediately. This is not always the case, mind you, but often after I’ve given a talk or written an article, I get to speak with and hear from people immediately, read a comment or twitter response, or glance through a Facebook encouragement. While this doesn’t always happen, but it occurs often enough to spur me on to the next step of faith in writing or speaking.
You and I don’t often see these immediate evidences of God’s grace. I remember meeting with my editor, Carl Laferton, and he said to me, “You won’t get to see the effect of God’s Very Good Idea until the new creation. It will be brilliant.” I’m paraphrasing my British friend here, but in short, he was kindly reminding me that my little book could have eternal significance that I simply won’t and can’t fully know until we’re in Heaven. My faith was built! Similarly, many of the kids you work with may not be able to fully articulate how your teaching is affecting their heart. They may move to another church or they may even become a prodigal…but then return because of the faithfulness of God and how he used you in their past. You may never know. But you should know that your work in not in vain. We plant seeds, God waters and makes them grow. He promises to finish the good work he begins in little hearts and he will surely do it.
A Gift to Parents
And, finally, what a gift to parents you are. You do not replace the impact or influence of parents, nor would you desire to. But you do help us parents continue to plant the seeds, and you help us to engage in further conversations. And perhaps for some children you really are the only place where they hear and see the gospel being proclaimed. In a world where families can have a look of perfection, we often don’t know what’s lingering behind closed doors. Your words and actions could be God-ordained balm to the soul of that young image bearer.
So, thank you! Thank you for your service, sacrifice, and love of children. Keep going. Your work is a gift of God’s grace to the Church.
If I could give God’s Very Good Idea away to everyone I know, I would. I want to…and this post is a reflection of that desire. So, if you are a children’s ministry worker or if you’d like to “nominate” a children’s ministry worker, please simply tag them in Instagram or on Facebook or make a comment here. I will choose five winners to each receive three copies of God’s Very Good Idea to use for their ministry.
Simply comment below or tag your nominee to my Facebook page or Instagram. Giveaway ends at noon on Friday, Oct. 6.
Can’t wait to give these away!
A special thank you to The Good Book Company for this awesome giveaway! Thank you also to Carl Laferton, my editor, who graciously said YES to this project!