International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Pray For Me #IDOP

Sunday, November 1, 2015, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). It is a day where Christians all over the world make a special effort to pray for those believers who are suffering for their faith. I encourage you to join us as we pray for those who share our faith but not our freedom.

For more information on IDOP and other ways you can support suffering Christians click here.

To see the current World Watch list – a list of the top 50 countries in the world where faith in Jesus Christ costs the most – click here.

Refugee Beads

Refugee Beads

There’s an ongoing debate in our country about immigration, and it can get pretty heated at times. With so many sides to this complicated issue, sometimes it is hard to separate fact from misinformation. As Christians are we supposed to welcome one and all with open arms? Should we build a wall? Do we provide education and healthcare for those here illegally?

Well, there is a woman in Atlanta, Georgia, who decided to leave politics to the politicians and actually DO something for the large and diverse immigrant population in her community. She started an organization called Refugee Beads that utilizes the talents of individuals to make gorgeous handmade jewelry. Not only is Refugee Beads providing jobs for people, it is also using the profits from the sale of the jewelry to fund after-school and mentoring programs for children. You can read about this wonderful organization here. Visit their online shop here.

As a believer, I have wrestled with those questions asked above. I can see valid points on both sides. However, I have decided that when it comes to this issue I am going to be ruled by these 2 principles: (1) I am going to declare and live like this world is not my home and I’m just a passin’ through, as the old hymn says. That means that even though I am extremely grateful to have been born in the United States of America, I recognize that my true citizenship is in heaven and my home here is temporary. With the privilege of being born in a free country comes tremendous responsibility to advocate for those who were not. (2) When I am unsure about how to respond to the immigration crisis or to immigrants (whether legal or not), I am going to determine to have the heart of God. What exactly does that mean? I am going to search the Word of God and see how He instructs His people to treat aliens in a foreign land. The way God asks His followers to behave reveals His attitude. Believe it or not, the Bible has a lot to say on the subject.

Jesus said that everything we need to do and be as a follower of Him is wrapped up in two statements: love God and love people (Matthew 22:36-40). We MUST stop living our own agendas and start living a life of self-sacrifice. I am trying. I hope you are, too.

Why we don’t do Halloween.


First, let me say that I am not going to give you any deep theological arguments here. I’m also not going to give you any kind of history lesson. This is simply my opinion and the way our family felt we were to handle this holiday that has become so popular in American culture. Second, even though it is my opinion, it is based upon Scripture which, as a Christian, is the plumbline by which all things are measured in my life. In other words, if you have a differing opinion, that is perfectly fine. But please don’t just say I’m wrong; at least give a reasonable defense for your own opinion. I’m not trying to change your opinion but am simply offering an explanation for mine.

In this post I explained why our family doesn’t do Santa. In this post I explained why I have a problem with the Elf on the Shelf. Wow. I have taken tremendous heat for those even though, once again, I have simply stated my opinion and have made it clear that I’m not trying to bring anyone over to my side. But, hey, whatevs. I suspect this post will bring the same type of response. So here goes…

The fifth chapter of Ephesians talks about how Christians are of the light and non-Christians are of darkness. In Scripture darkness is frequently used to characterize Satan and anything that is in opposition to God. Ephesians 5:11a tells Christians not to “participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.” This is the verse that always came to my mind when thinking of Halloween. No one can deny that the roots of this holiday as well as many modern-day practices of it are, indeed, characterized by darkness – ghosts, ghouls, demons, witches, blood and guts, etc. It never seemed like something that a child of the Light should participate in. One has only to do a Bible word search on witchcraft or sorcery to see what God thinks of that.

Since Halloween is geared so much towards children, we felt it was very important to handle this in a way that clearly taught our beliefs to our children from a very young age. Above all, we wanted to live out our faith in a way that was consistent with what we said we believed and, as best we could tell, lined up with the Word of God. However, we also did not want to give the impression that we thought anyone who took their children trick-or-treating was in essence worshiping the devil. A delicate balance, for sure.

So this is how we lived out our beliefs about Halloween:

♦ When our children were about 3-4 years of age and old enough to sorta kinda know something was afoot, on the night of Halloween we would go to Chuck E. Cheese (or somewhere similar). Since we did not eat out frequently, this was a special treat and, believe me, we had the place all to ourselves! Once they got a little older, we would let them choose where we would go the night of Halloween.

♦ If there was a fall festival either at our church or an area church, we would take our children to it. We believe that honoring God and thanking Him for the bountiful harvest of the season is a worthy tradition that is not unbiblical.

♦ If costumes were involved, then we encouraged our children to choose either a Bible character (much better heroes than Ninja turtles or Batman!) or one of God’s creatures.

♦ Once our children got to about age 10, we began passing out candy to trick-or-treaters and we would let our children choose what kind of Halloween candy they wanted to pass out. (Guess who got all the leftovers?!) We would stay home and have a party while they passed out candy. We would include with the candy Christian stickers or cartoon books. One year a favorite with the trick-or-treaters were the smashed pennies with the 10 Commandments on them that we passed out. Many times we would set up a fire pit in the front yard or driveway and cook hot dogs while the kids took turns at the candy station at the end of the driveway. They would alternate passing out candy with playing flashlight tag, jumping on the trampoline, and just running around the yard as kids like to do.

♦ Now that my children are grown, I continue to pass out candy with some type of inspirational treat.

I guess the title of this post isn’t really true. Our family does do Halloween. We just do it differently from most. I believe my children have many great “Halloween” memories. Hopefully, those memories are God-honoring and biblical. I know we did the best we could to live out our faith without compromise but also in a way that shared our faith with others in a loving way. And I can honestly say that I have no regrets!

Revelation Illustrated Book

Through the Gate of the Eternal City by Pat Marvenko Smith

Through the Gate of the Eternal City by Pat Marvenko Smith

I have been a fan of Pat Marvenko Smith’s artwork for several years. I have used them when teaching Bible study  – not just in Revelation but also Daniel and Ezekiel. She is a very talented artist. She also has a unique ability to illustrate scenes from Scripture. There are some very vivid descriptions of heavenly scenes in the books of Revelation, Daniel, and Ezekiel. Because the things described are other-worldly, it is difficult to form a mental picture of the scene, event, or creature. Pat has no such difficulty. She truly brings passages of Scripture to life through her art. They are not only beautiful but also biblically accurate.

She has a book that includes all of her paintings. It can be purchased here. She also has individual prints, cd’s, note cards, and digital downloads available for purchase here. These are great to use for teaching purposes.

You can watch a short video about her book here.

Updated A-Z Key Word Symbol Sheets are finally here!

A-B KWS Sheet Marked

Just in time for all of you who will be starting back to Bible study soon after the summer hiatus, here are the new and expanded A-Z Key Word Symbol Sheets! These have almost 100 extra words than the previous ones. I hope they will help you dig deeper into God’s Word through inductive Bible study (IBS). To access these brand new A-Z Key Word Symbol Sheets click here.

Don’t forget that marking the text is a tool of IBS; it isn’t the point of IBS. Marking key repeated words while you are reading helps you slow down and interact with Scripture. It helps you focus as you read. When you are finished, then you have a visual picture of what the text is saying.

Another tool of IBS is making lists. After you mark key words, a good practice is to go back and make a list on every key word. Note what the text says about the key word, how it is used, if it answers any questions such as Who? What? Where? When? Why? or How? You will be amazed at how much more you will draw from the Word with these 2 simple tools than by reading alone.

If you’re interested in using a workbook to guide you through a book of the Bible, Precept Ministries offers the best IBS materials out there. They have different study series that require different skill levels and time commitments. For an overview of each of their series click here.

Cute Japanese Pencil Cases

Pencil cases JetPensEvery Bible study student needs a good pencil case… or six. Check out these adorable ones from JetPens – one of my favorite websites for awesome Japanese office supplies. These are made from a double layer of thick cotton fabric and come in a variety of Japanese fabric prints. Very kawaii!



How to Pray for the Persecuted Church

Person in Jail


In this post I encouraged you to pray for Muslims during Ramadan which ends at sundown on July 17. I also encouraged you to pray for Christians who live in Islamic countries because persecution escalates toward them during this holy time for Muslims. I hope you won’t stop praying for persecuted Christians when Ramadan ends.

I found an excellent post here that not only encourages you to pray for Christians who are suffering, but it also gives you great guidance on specific ways to pray. So keep praying!


More Key Word Symbols for Genesis


Genesis Part 5 image

If you’ve been studying through Genesis with us, then you know that we’ve been using the Precept Upon Precept Bible Studies done by Precept Ministries. They are the best inductive Bible study materials available, in my opinion. If you haven’t been working through this series, then I encourage you to start with Genesis Part 1 and work through all 5 parts of this foundational book. Understanding Genesis will help you understand almost every other book in the Bible.

Whether you are studying Genesis on your own, in a weekly Bible study, or online, here are some more Key Word Symbol Sheets for you:

Genesis Part 4 Key Word Symbol Sheet

Genesis Part 5 Key Word Symbol Sheet

Doing Bible study with a group of real live people is obviously the best case scenario, but not everyone is able to meet face to face weekly whether due to lack of access or scheduling conflicts. That’s why we do online Bible study the way we do. For more information on how we do that, click here.