A Few Good Friends

I’m on Day 6 of a 40 Day Facebook fast. I’m using a devotional by Wendy Speake called “The 40-Day Social Media Fast.” Today’s devotional was entitled, “A Few Good Friends” and it hit me right between the eyes.

I spent most of my teenage years as an outsider. As a brainiac and an atheist, though I wanted to fit in, I didn’t.

As an adult and born again follower of Jesus, I never want others to feel left out, like I was.

I cast my net wide.

I love everyone.

I invite everyone.

Any age, any skin color, any religion, any economic level, whatever – I love you all.

I love to greet the new people who wander nervously into church. I love to seek out the person sitting in the corner at a party. I love to make the newcomer and the outsider feel appreciated and valued.

8 or 80, male or female, made up or beat up, I want to be your friend.

The struggle for me is that love isn’t always reciprocated, even in the family of Christ. Sometimes I’m too serious, too friendly, too deep, too religious, too loud, too … whatever. And it still hurts me more deeply than I wish it did. 😰

I love getting likes and shares on my FB feed (and my blog). I purposely share some fun family photos and silly memes on my Facebook feed, just so people don’t think I’m too “religious” or too “deep.”

The most personal things I write, which are usually both deep and religious, don’t garner nearly so many likes or shares, but I keep on writing them because that’s how God made me. I think these writings are some of the works that God has prepared for me to do, that God has uniquely designed me to write. (Ephesians 2:10)

Thanks to each of you for being on this journey with me. Whether you’re one of my 3 special friends or whether we’ve never even met, I love you and I want you to know Jesus.

Your love or disdain for me does not change my value in my Father’s eyes. Whether you like my post or not, Jesus likes me. In fact, Jesus died for me, and His approval is all that really matters. ❤

“We don’t need everyone to like us, love us, invite us, or include us. In God’s economy, two or three faithful friends make for great wealth.”

Wendy Speake, The 40-Day Social Media Fast

What does God value?

This is my lesson for this week. May it bless many and bear fruit to the glory of Jesus.

I am the younger of two children. I have only one sister. She is older than me. Her name is Kristan.

Growing up, I was always competing with Kristan. I never felt like I was as good as her. She was a quiet girl who didn’t cause much trouble. I always thought she was prettier than me. She was taller than me – and she still is. She was an excellent piano player while I struggled through my piano lessons.

Because I felt like she was better than me in so many ways, I tried to be better than her in other ways. I showed off by being talkative, friendly, outspoken, and loud. I earned awards in science fairs and debate competitions. I went to a special school for the top students in my city, yet I still felt like I was in her shadow.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and felt like you weren’t as good, as smart, or as pretty as them?

Last week we talked about what people like to share on social media like WeChat and Facebook.

I think one reason why people like sharing on social media is because they want people to praise them. We all want people to think we’re smart, beautiful, kind, and good. We all want people’s praise.

Now that I am an adult, I still find myself comparing my strengths to others’ weaknesses. I like to share the highlights of my week when my family did something special. I don’t share the moments when I got mad at my husband. I don’t share when my house was a mess and I served frozen pizzas for dinner. I don’t share when I spent 2 hours scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. I want to show the good things my kids or my husband or I did. I still want so much for people to praise and value me. This is still a struggle for me.

How about you?

I want to show you a short video of a young man with Down Syndrome speaking at a meeting for some American government leaders. While you’re watching this video, I want you to think about how you feel watching this young man and how you would feel if he was your son.


You can watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/vtS91Jd5mac

If you were this young man’s mom, would you be proud to call him your son? Why? Why not?

Now let’s think about our own families. If you had a son, would you value him more if he was the top student in his Chinese class? What if he won a track meet or an English competition? What would he have to do to make you proud?

What about God? What does God value? What makes God proud? To find an answer, let’s consider the story of the shepherd boy David who grew up to be the King of Israel. The first king of Israel, King Saul, had disobeyed God and God was looking for a new man to be king of Israel. God sent His prophet Samuel to a man named Jesse to find a new king from one of Jesse’s sons. When Jesse’s first son arrived, Samuel thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed,” but Samuel was wrong.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.
The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.”” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

但耶和华对撒母耳说:“不要看他的外貌和他高大的身材,因为我不拣选他。
耶和华看人不像人看人,人是看外表,耶和华是看内心。

Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together.
Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.

God had chosen Jesse’s youngest son who was out in the field caring for the sheep. As we are told in Acts 13:22, God had chosen David, the son of Jesse, because he was a man after God’s own heart who would do everything God wanted him to do.

Does that mean that David never sinned? Does that mean that David never broke God’s laws? No, it doesn’t. In fact, David committed adultery with a married woman and had her husband killed. Yet, David was repentant over his sin. David grieved over his sin and turned to God for forgiveness. David held fast to God and had faith in God even when life was very hard.

So, what exactly is in a man’s heart which makes God value him?

What do you think, sisters? What makes a person worthy to be called God’s child?

God created each and every person in His very own image. Every single person ever made was created in the image of God – no matter their skin color, no matter their wealth, no matter their intelligence or ability level, no matter how much money they have. Every single person has value in the sight of God because every single person is created in the image of God.

But not everyone is God’s child.

Jesus “came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:10-13)

The only thing that can make you God’s child is faith, faith in Jesus Christ, the only Son of our Heavenly Father God. This alone is what makes you worthy. Faith is the greatest value.

And even this faith is a gift, as we read in Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

As you trust in God, then He will strengthen you and guide you to do great things for Him. He will change you, grow you and make you more like His Son as you trust in Him.

Like I once worked so hard to be better than my sister, when I became a Christian, I worked so hard to earn God’s love. But I was wrong. There was nothing I could do to deserve God’s love.

“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might,
let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this,
that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD
who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

耶和华这样说:“智慧人不可夸耀自己的智慧,勇士不可夸耀自己的勇力,财主不可夸耀自己的财富。
夸口的却要因了解我,认识我而夸口;认识我是耶和华,我在地上施行慈爱、
公正、公义;因为我喜悦这些事。”这是耶和华的宣告。

Let’s try reciting this verse together. First, you can listen to me say it. Then, we will say it together.
Finally, I’d like a few sisters to try it by themselves.

God delights in steadfast love, justice and righteousness. Yes, He does. And He wants us to do these things, too, but He wants us to do them by faith. He wants us to obey Him by faith.

Jesus chose the intellectual Paul, a Jewish Pharisee and a persecutor of Christians, to share the good news of salvation with the lost. But Jesus also chose four common fishermen like Peter to spread the gospel. Does Jesus love the intellectual Paul more than simple Peter? No.

As Paul wrote in the beginning of his letter to the church in Corinth,

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,
not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29
)

弟兄们,你们想想,你们这些蒙召的,按人“人”或译:
“世上的标准”、“世界的标准”来看有智慧的不多,有权势的不多,出身尊贵的也不多。
但是 神却拣选了世上愚笨的,使那些有智慧的羞愧。他也拣选了世上软弱的,使那些刚强的羞愧。
他也拣选了世上卑贱的和被人轻视的,以及算不得甚么的,为了要废弃那些自以为是的,
使所有的人在 神面前都不能自夸。

Do you think if your child got better grades or your husband had a better job, then God would love you more?

Do you think that if you were prettier or smarter or richer, then God would love you?

What if you memorized more Bible verses or prayed more or went to church more often, then would you be worthy of God’s love?

What if you gave all you owned to the poor or gave up your life as a martyr for Christ, then would you finally be valuable to God? (See 1 Corinthians 13 for more on this!)

Look at these pictures of my husband and my son in our backyard. My husband is much taller than my son when you look at them up close, but when you compare either of them to the height of the trees, they are both so tiny.

We may like to compare ourselves to one other, but when we compare ourselves to God, then we see how short we truly are. None of us are perfectly good, wise or holy. Only God. God loves you because He is God. He is your Creator, and He wants to be your Father. There is nothing you can say or do or think to make yourself worthy of His love.

In your own power,
you are unworthy and undeserving,
but in Christ Jesus you have infinite worth.

I don’t know whether you need to hear this because you need to be reminded not to show favoritism to your children or your coworkers or your friends, or because you need the reminder that you can’t earn God’s love, but I know that you need to hear this. 

When you place your trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you. When God looks at you, He sees His Son, Jesus Christ, in your heart. Jesus Christ is who makes you worthy and valuable, completely worthy and infinitely valuable, and Jesus Christ is the truly the only one truly worthy of praise.

Let me encourage you to share this good news with someone else this week.

Worth, Value and Worthlessness

This is my lesson from last week with the international women’s discipleship group. I pray it would bless many!

WORTH can describe either a monetary value (cost) or a personal, moral value. This coat is worth more money than that coat. Spending time with my mom is worth more than watching TV. Let’s try this dialogue to learn more about the word “worth.”

  • Abby: Hey, Mom. Look at these shoes! Aren’t they cool?
  • Mom: Yes, they are. Those shoes are beautiful. How much do they cost?
  • Abby: $120.
  • Mom: Wow, Abby. They are so expensive! Are they worth that much to you?
  • Abby: Not really, Mom. I found this pair over here. They’re only $40 and I think they’ll be great.
  • Mom: Good work, Abby. I think these shoes are worth $40. Let’s get them.

When we’re buying something, we look at how much the thing is worth. How much will I pay for a car or a house or a pair of shoes? How much will I pay someone to clean my house or take care of my children? It depends how much it’s worth.

VALUE has a similar meaning to WORTH. VALUABLE has a similar meaning to WORTHY.

Let’s try this dialogue to learn about the words, “value” and “valuable.”

  • Betty: Honey, I love you so much. I really value the time that we spend together. Thank you for taking me out for dinner tonight. I had a great time.
  • Husband: Betty, I love you, too. You are my most valuable treasure. You are worth so much to me!

We can also use the word “WORTHLESS” to describe something that is not important, something that is not valuable. Worth + less = not worthy.

In looking at the Bible for “worthless,” I really liked this Bible verse. Let’s learn it together.

“Turn my eyes from worthless things and give me life through your word.” Psalm 119:37.
求你使我转眼不看虚空的事;又使我在你的道中存活。

First, listen to me say it, then we will say it together. Finally, I’d like three ladies to try it on their own.

“Turn my eyes from worthless things and give me life through your word.” (Psalm 119:37 NLT)

Just like we have limited amounts of money, we also have limited amounts of time. Our lives here on earth won’t last forever. There are only 24 hours in a day. There are only 365 days in a year. We don’t want to waste our time or our money on worthless things.

One way you can see what is valuable to you is by looking at where you spend your time and your money. Pay attention to your calendar and your bank account.

If you suddenly had three hours of free time what would you do?

  • Go shopping or go to a fancy restaurant?
  • Clean the house or play with your children?
  • Read through WeChat or read through the Bible?

I’d like three new women to share their answers.

If you were surprised to receive an extra 1,000 yuan, what would you do with it?

  • Would you pay your electric bill or buy your groceries?
  • Would you buy a new purse or a new book?
  • Would you give it to your parents or to someone in need?

I’d like three women to share their answers.

Let’s look at another Bible verse about what is valuable versus what is worthless.

Job 28:17-18 says, “Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal.
It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold.
Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above rubies.”
黄金和玻璃不能与它比较,纯金的器皿不能与它交换。
珊瑚和水晶都不值一提,取得智慧胜过取得红宝石。

We can also show what we value by what we think about and talk about. What do you fall asleep thinking about and wake up thinking about? What are you excited to talk about to your parents, friends, kids or husband? What do you post on social media?

  • Your cats or your kids?
  • Your favorite movies and music?
  • A new restaurant or a new coat?
  • A Bible verse or prayer request?

I’d like three new women to share their answers.

As a women’s group, we want to value what God values. We want to love what God loves.

We’re going to talk about this more next week, but tonight let’s just look at this one Bible verse:

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry,
or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
(1 Peter 3:3-4 NLT)
不要单注重外表的装饰, 就如鬈头发, 戴金饰, 穿华丽衣服;
却要在里面存着温柔安静的心灵, 作不能毁坏的装饰, 这在 神面前是极宝贵的

What is valuable to God? What should a woman value? What should a woman not value?

Further reading: Proverbs 31:10-31, Matthew 6:19-34

Counting rubbish

The other day when I was teaching English online to a student in China, our lesson was about taking care of the environment. This 11-year-old boy kept using the word “rubbish,” rather than “trash” or “garbage” like you’d usually hear in the United States of America.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this word as “useless waste or rejected matter, something that is worthless or nonsensical”

Though the word, “rubbish” sounded odd in my ears during that lesson, it is exactly what the translators chose for Philippians 3:8.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Philippians 3:7-9 ESV

What do we need to count as useless, as worthless, as waste, in order to gain Christ?

Whatever it is, it’s worth it.

The wind blows where it wishes

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”” (John 3:5-8 ESV)

This week while watching the news coverage on Hurricane Delta, John 3:8 jumped off the page. We don’t know when, where or how powerfully the hurricane will hit. We are thankful for all the modern technology that allows us to track storms and make predictions, but moment by moment those predictions change. Ultimately, we don’t know … we can’t know … the future of a storm.

Likewise, we don’t know how the Spirit will move. We don’t know who He might call, or when.

When Simon Peter and his brother Andrew headed out to fish one morning, little did they know that would be the day they would be called by the Messiah to become fishers of men. (Matthew 4:18-19)

When an unidentified man suffering from leprosy left his house one morning, he couldn’t possibly have known that would be the day of his cleansing. (Matthew 8:2-3)

When Matthew was sitting in his tax booth one morning, he never could have known that was the day Jesus would invite him to follow him. (Matthew 9:9)

Just as I don’t know if today might be the last time I talk to my son or my daughter, my husband, my parent or my best friend, likewise I don’t know if today will be the day of salvation for a loved one I’ve prayed for faithfully for years.

For as much as we don’t know what exactly the future holds, there are some things we DO know.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10 ESV

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” – Psalm 100:3 ESV

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:1-6 ESV

These are written that you may believe

I remember when I was about 14 or 15 years old and I was at a summer camp. One day, I had a few minutes by myself and I was sitting out on this big, grassy field looking up at the sunny, blue sky with the trees were waving gently in the breeze and in my heart, I thought,

“God, if you’re real, please show yourself to me.”

You might think that’s a strange thing for a teenager to ask, but unfortunately, I didn’t think that God was real, and I was quite certain that my plea would go unheard.

When I didn’t hear a voice speak from heaven or see a lightning bolt strike the ground in front of me, I left that field that day still believing that God didn’t exist.

And yet, my friends, God WAS showing Himself to me. In fact, I believe that God was who caused me to make such a request in the first place. Like Paul wrote in Romans chapter 1, God was showing Himself to me (and to all mankind) in the things that He had made – the sun, the blue sky, the wind and even the trees.

Again and again for millennia God has sent prophets and witnesses to speak His Words, including John the Baptist as we read about in John 1, telling people that Jesus was the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Messiah, the Lamb of God.

Again and again, God has faithfully manifested (made visible, shown) His glory so that mankind will be without excuse if they don’t believe in Him.

One way that God demonstrates His glory is through miraculous signs.

Right from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, God has shown Himself through miraculous signs. God has often given man signs in the sky to prove His glory and power! When God created the sun, moon and stars in Genesis 1:14, we read, “God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and nights.”

And again, in Genesis 9, after the worldwide flood, God put a rainbow in the sky to be a sign of His promise to never again destroy the earth by flood.

The Hebrew word for “sign” is “owth.” It can mean a signal, a distinguishing mark, a banner, a remembrance, a miraculous sign, an omen or a warning.

When God sent Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, God gave Moses the ability to perform miraculous signs to prove that God had sent him, SO THAT the Jewish people would believe Moses when he spoke to them. These signs included God causing Moses’s staff to turn into a snake and then back into a staff, as well as God causing his hand to be leprous and then healed, and even turning water into blood. (Exodus 4:6-9)

In today’s lesson, we read about the first of Jesus’s signs while He walked on the earth. This first sign was when Jesus turned water into wine. As John 2:11 says, this sign “manifested – MADE VISIBLE – His glory and His disciples believed in Him.” Again we see that signs are given to us by God that we would BELIEVE in Him, TRUST in Him, have FAITH that what He has promised is real – like Hebrews 11:1, that we would have assurance that the things we hope for, the things that we cannot see, are indeed REAL.

Later in John 2, verse 18, after Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers and drove all the people and animals out of the temple, the Jews asked Jesus for another sign – a sign to prove His authority to do such a thing.

Jesus’s answer was, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

John 2:19

As you would expect, this answer confused the Jews at the time, but that’s because this sign wouldn’t come about until three years later when Jesus’s physical body had been killed and laid in a tomb to be resurrected three days later as we will read about in John chapters 19 and 20.

In the three years that Jesus conducted his ministry between this first sign at the wedding in Cana and His resurrection, Jesus did so many signs – feedings thousands of men, women and children with only a few fish and loaves of bread, healing blind men and deaf men and lame men and leprous men, walking on water and calming storms – and every one of those signs pointed to the fact that Jesus had all authority in heaven and on earth, that He was the only Begotten Son of God, that mankind should BELIEVE in Him as  the Messiah and King – just as John the Baptist had said.

After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to many of His disciples in person. These disciples told Thomas (another of Jesus’s disciples) that they had seen Jesus in person. Like John the Baptist, they bore witness to what they had seen and heard.

Yet, Thomas refused to believe their eyewitness testimony. Thomas said to them, in John 20:25 “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

“Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then (Jesus) said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)

Because Thomas saw these physical signs of the resurrected Jesus, now He believed! Praise God for His faith. But let’s keep reading to see how Jesus answered him, in John 20:29, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

God wants us still today to be His faithful witnesses with eyes and ears and hearts and mouths wide open, wide open to His Word and His ongoing works in the modern world, telling other people the good news that they, too,  can receive eternal life by trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

God has given us His precious written Word, a record of the countless signs that Jesus did on earth. As John continued in the next two verses,

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

John 20:30-31

And again, in the final words of the book of John, John 21:25, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

I’m praying that each one of you would place your faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have LIFE in His name.

The “I do, We do, You do” Principle

For two and a half years I’ve followed the ‘I do, We do, You do” principle when teaching English as a Second Language classes online.

First, I model what I expect my student to do.

Then, we do it together.

Finally, my student does it on his own.

In teaching my daughter to drive, I am also following this same principle. First, she watches me drive. Then, she drives while I sit alongside her, giving lots of instruction. Next, she drives while I sit quietly, only offering suggestions when it is absolutely necessary. Finally, after months behind the wheel, she’s ready to drive on her own.

A good master craftsman ought to follow this very same principle with their apprentice. My aunt and uncle are expert potters. When I spent the summer at their home many years ago, they encouraged me to watch carefully while they told me what to do. Then, they gave me some clay to work with while instructing me every step of the way. And, at last, I was free to create my own work of art.

In our modern American society, I see so many ways we’re forgetting this wonderful principle, both as parents and as disciple-makers. As parents, we often turn the reins over to our children way too early. We let them pick what they wear, what they eat, and what they do as soon as they can squawk out their wishes. We fail to train and model for them properly. On the other hand, we might spend all our time lecturing our kids, without working alongside them, modeling for them how to make good decisions or accomplish household tasks. Rather than spending time doing household chores with our kids, we’re busy working in the kitchen or the yard, while they’re busy doing homework, playing sports or hanging with their friends.

As disciple-makers, we need to be careful to begin by modeling how we pray, how we study the Bible, and even how we share the gospel. Then, we pray together and study together and share the gospel together. Initially, we share lots of instruction and do most of the talking, gradually decreasing our input and encouraging them to increase their output. This is the best way to train our children to train their children. And, this is the best way to train new believers in how to walk the walk of faith.

Jesus washed His disciples’ feet Himself first, then urged them to do likewise. Paul poured faithfully into Timothy and Titus and many others, modeling for them and training them, and then sent them out to do likewise.

We, too, can go and make disciples! We, too, have been called to be integral leaders in the multiplication of the kingdom – whether at home or in our world.

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

John 13:13-17 ESV

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Matthew 28:19-20a ESV

“I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”

1 Corinthians 4:14-17 ESV

“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

1 Timothy 4:11-16 ESV

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Titus 2:3-5 ESV

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Timothy 1:15-17 ESV

For more study, search the words: imitate (imitat**) and example. Read through Paul’s letters in the New Testament paying special attention to how Paul encouraged and admonished those who were following him to follow Jesus and to set an example for others. (such as 1 Corinthians 10:1-12, Philippians 3:12-17, 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)

What a difference a year makes

Oh, what a lot can happen in one year.

One year ago, September 15, 2019, I was watching my kids on the shores of Pensacola Beach. My oldest had a new love interest and we were there visiting him. They’d met online that summer. He’d come up to visit us once and now it was our turn to go down.

Somewhere in the last 365 days, that love interest turned into husband, and that oldest daughter moved south to be with him, and that idyllic seashore turned into a hurricane landing spot.

We never know what the future holds, whether abundant blessings or heartrending tragedy, but we can be sure of this: Our Heavenly Father is good. Our Heavenly Father is all-powerful. Our Heavenly Father is listening and watching and taking care of us every single day of every single year. He is worthy of our trust and adoration.

Come Worship the Lord with me.

-TWIG