He Chose The Nails by Max Lucado

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I just recently finished my Thomas Nelson complimentary copy of “He Chose the Nails” by Max Lucado.  (I am part of their blogger group called BookSneeze).  Anyway,  I love the way Max Lucado writes.  His books are so easy to read and they make me laugh and they make me think.  This one was no different.

It’s a wonderful book that tells the story of what Jesus did for me and for you and for everyone else.  He chose the nails.  He chose to die on a cross so that we could be forgiven and so that we could have a relationship with God.  A close and loving relationship with our creator.  

He dedicates this book to Jesus.  I love it.  In the front of the book where most authors dedicate the book to their wife, or their mother, or the children, Lucado has dedicated this book to “To Jesus Christ, Because you chose the nails”.  

The entire book is written to help you grasp and truly understand how much Jesus loves us. He tells some funny and entertaining personal stories along the way, but makes his points beautifully.  This would be a great book to read with your family right before Easter.  He even has a Study Guide in the back of the book.

This book is about redemption and understanding that no matter what you’ve done, Jesus died on the cross so that you are now forgiven (if you accept this gift and follow Him). It’s about using your mistakes, your tragedies and your struggles for good.  And it ends with a chapter titled “What Will You Leave at the Cross?”  

We are reminded that we can let go of past hurts, regrets and guilt and leave it all at the Cross where Jesus always intended us to leave it.  

I would highly suggest reading this wonderfully written book as a reminder of Jesus’ love for you.

 

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The Garden of Gethsemane

Wow!  That’s how I felt after this sermon.  I’m noticing I feel that a lot after hearing Matt Carter speak truth.  However, this sermon may just be the very best sermon I have ever heard.  It is such a wonderful explanation and exploration into what Jesus was feeling and thinking as he spoke to God in the Garden of Gethsemane just before he was going to die on the cross. 

I’ve read these passages before, but never understood them like this.  Hearing it this way gave me a totally different perspective and created such a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for Jesus.  Not only am I incredibly thankful for what Jesus did, I’m in awe and I’m completely engulfed with the love He has for us.  Amazing Love. 

Watch or listen to this sermon and let me know if you are not changed, encouraged or comforted in some way.

Garden of Gethsemane Sermon

Grace

God’s grace is amazing.   Period.   I am sure, like me, this conjures up thoughts of the song ” Amazing Grace”  and what a beautiful song it is.  The lyrics explain the feelings that go along with Grace perfectly.

“I was once lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

“How precious did that Grace appear the first hour I believed”

This is my favorite line ” T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.  And Grace, my fears relieved.” 

I, of course, had heard this song many times before I became a Christian.  And honestly it meant nothing to me then.  Absolutely nothing.  It was just a song I had sung a few times on a rare occasion when I attended church or at a funeral.  That was it.  It was just a hymn.

After I became a Christian and I heard this song , I was blown away.  How could  I have missed what this song was saying?  Scales.  I clearly had scales over my eyes and apparently my ears too.  How could this song have been written back in 1725 and feel like the words were coming straight from my heart? 

Grace gives us that which we do not deserve.  Forgiveness, redemption and acceptance.

It’s God’s Grace that continues to amaze me on a daily basis.  I do not deserve this life He has given me, and I definitely do not deserve his forgiveness, redemption or acceptance.  Yet, He chose to offer them to me if I should choose to accept.  At the age of 34 I did accept His offer, and my life will never, ever, be the same.  Thank you Lord!

Holding Nothing Back

I LOVE this song!  It’s called “Holding Nothing Back”  Our church had a live concert last fall and they recorded a live CD which included this song.  We bought the CD and I have played it over and over (and over) in my car lately and I keep repeating this song (and singing along).   It’s such a great song with an even better message.   Here is a video of the band “Jesus Culture” singing it.

MercyMe and Tenth Avenue North

IMG_3969Our church was giving away tickets to the MercyMe concert that was here in Austin on Saturday night.  My husband was able to get two tickets for us free.  I was excited!   I love MercyMe and have not seen them live before.  It was a great show!  Tenth Avenue North opened for them, and they were really good as well.  

There was a great message throughout the night and it spoke directly to me and my husband.   Both bands talked about how God is always with us during our struggles and He uses those struggles to make us into who He intended for us to be, so that we can live out His will for our lives.   We never need to feel like He’s not there because He is…He is always with us.  Tenth Avenue North’s song “Love Is Here” was written to remind people that God is always here with us, and He always loves us!  I love that song.  They also have a song called “Hold My Heart” which has a message about reaching out to God for help.  It’s an inspirational song.

MercyMe has so many great songs, but the two that stuck out the most to me that night were “Bring the Rain” and “Hold Fast“.  My husband and I are going through a bit of rain storm now with jobs and decisions, but we are holding fast to our faith in God.  We know He is with us and can accomplish things we can’t even imagine….

“Your Hands” by JJ Heller

I just stumbled upon a new song and a new artist this week.  My daughter and I were in the car the other day and this song came on.  It’s such a beautiful and powerful song. 

It is called “Your Hands” by JJ Heller. Here is a video clip of JJ and her husband singing the song. You can listen to the full version on her myspace site. I’ve also included the lyrics below.

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yea, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when…

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave…
I never leave Your hands

“Lead Me To The Cross” by Chris and Conrad

I love this song. The worship team at my church sings it occassionally and I love to sing along when they do. The lyrics really speak to me. These lines in particular:

Bring me to my knees Lord
I lay me down
Rid me of myself I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

Rid me of myself. That one line hits me harder than any of the rest. I think God is trying to tell me something everytime I hear this song. He is telling me to get out of the way so He can do good work in and through me. So I love to sing this song, so that I remember…..to rid me of myself.

Here is the song, along with all of the lyrics. Enjoy. I hope it inspires you in some way.

Cliff Notes from the Spur Leadership Conference

This conference was so beneficial and I really gained a lot of insight from it.  These were some great speakers all bringing something unique to the table.

The Bible verse that originally inspired this conference a few years ago was Hebrews 10:24  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” 

I’m going to just run through all of the main points that I highlighted throughout the two days, and I’ll reference who said them. 

They started off the conference with my pastor, Mac Richard.  He did a great job, as usual.  He talked about the stages of Leadership, and here are some of the main points I got from Mac’s presentation:

  • Your dream should be something that is different and sets you apart.
  • If you want influence – then serve someone.  
  • Most people play to the level of our expectations (so increase your expectations)
  • Spur the people you lead to community and accountability.
  • The one secret of realizing your dreams…DO NOT QUIT!!

Next was Kem Meyer, who I think is great and very entertaining.  I’ve been following her blog for awhile now (link is under my Link List), and I intend on reading her book “Less Clutter, Less Noise”.  Here are some main points from Kem:

  • It’s not always what we say.  It’s what people hear.
  • Don’t let your ego get in the way.  Ask yourself, “Do I care more about what I have to say than the person I’m listening to?
  • It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for.

And to make that last point, she played this video….

Very interesting isn’t.  If we stay focused on something, we may miss something that is right in front of us.  And we may be focusing on the wrong thing, when the right thing is right there!  Don’t miss those things…

Our next speaker was Governor Rick Perry, he is the governor of Texas.  He was a very warm and gracious speaker.  I really enjoyed his presentation.  He was honest and heartfelt and he is a Christian man who focuses on God everyday.  His main points were:

  • Because of sin, we need government. 
  • People of faith need to be more vocal than ever before
  • Your faith needs to transform your heart.

Steve Price was the speaker after lunch, and that’s a hard spot to fill, but he was great!  He was a very energetic and dynamic speaker.  He is the HR Director for Dell’s Global Consumer Business.  He told some great stories about his son, and his daughters, to drive home a couple of these points:

  • You have to DECIDE to change, or you never will.  It’s only over if you DECIDE it’s over.
  • You need to say to yourself, “It ends today – I set my old me here and begin new”
  • Leaders know that winning matters and they have a compelling vision to get there.
  • Leaders are dedicated to the purpose and they complete the mission.
  • You become what you look for in life.

 The last speaker of the first day was Roy Spence.  He is the co-founder and chairman of GSD&M, a leading marketing and advertising company here in Austin.  Their clients include Southwest Airlines, BMW, PGA Tour, Dreamworks and many more.  Here are his main points:

  •  If you feel like everything is coming in on you and you are backed into a corner, never give up, because that is when the tide will turn.
  • When one door closes, a new one opens, but sometimes we are so focused on the door that is shut and we miss the open door.
  • If you’re not enjoying the journey, then do something else.

He also talked about the 2 main jobs of a leader:

#1:  A purpose based leader needs to tell the purpose early and often.  And be clear about it.

#2:  Protect the troops, fess up when you mess up. 

One of my favorite speakers was Steven Furtick, who spoke first the second day.  He is only 29 years old and he is the lead pastor at Elevation Church in Charolotte, NC, they opened 3 years ago and they now have 6,000 attendees. Wow.  He was extremely dynamic. 

The first thing he talked about was having a vision, and that when we have no vision, we cast off restraint.  So we give in to many sinful things when we do not have a clear vision for our life. What a great point!  He referenced Proverbs 29:18, which says” When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.  But whoever obeys the law is joyful.”  NLT.  And here are some of the other main points he talked about (all of them were so good, he was such an inspiration!)

  • Call out someone’s potential when you see it, you have no idea what you can do with influential words to people. (his pastor had faith in him, and he never forgot it and says that is why he is where he is today.)
  • Work with what you’ve got.
  • Have a BIG vision, even if you don’t know HOW it will happen.
  • Even if it looks like nothing is there – believe it will be.  See it as big, over and over, until it is!
  • If you tell people your vision, and they don’t laugh…then your vision isn’t big enough.  People should laugh when you tell them the vision.
  • The difference between a daydream and a vision is the audacity of acting on it!  You have to do it!

The last speaker was General Tommy Franks, who joined the U.S. Army in 1967.  In 2000 he was promoted to four-star General and assigned as Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command.  He led troops in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. 

He was refreshingly funny and honest.  He is man full of integrity and conviction, with a great sense of humor.  Here were some of his main points:

  • Be careful from who you take counsel.
  • The greatest risk to our way of life right now in America, is within us.
  • In this country you can do anything you want to do, because you want it.  Do not wait for someone to do it for you.
  • When he was going off to way his dad told him to be FEISTY  – F-Focused; E-Energized; I-Integrity; S- Solve the Problem; T-Take the Blame; Y-Yes!  (say yes when your superiors ask you to do something, no matter what it is)
  • Nothing good comes without a price.]
  • Nothing good happens after midnight (this one was for the 10 or so high school students that attended)
  • Don’t be in a rush.
  • Some decisions don’t matter – but some decisions will be with you the rest of your life.

Whew, I know that was long, but I wrote down so many good points and I wanted to share them.  It was a great conference and hearing these people speak in person was so motivating and uplifting.  I definitely want to go next year.

“Captivating” by John & Stasi Eldredge

I just finished this book this past week, and I wanted to share my review of it.  I kept reading about this book and decided it was time I read it.  I’m so glad I did.

Captivating

The subtitle of this book is “Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul”, which is exactly what it does.  This book digs deep into a women’s heart and reveals what we, as women, need most.  To be romanced, and feel loved and to feel captivating!  And as much as we may search for this in the world, it will never satisfy us completely.  Only God’s love for us, and the fact that he finds us captivating can completely satisfy our hearts.  

This book gives many examples of women’s lives who were less than ideal, some of them  even unbelievably sad.  But the hope is that God can redeem all of this, and in God’s eyes we are all beautiful and we are so loved.

It’s a great feeling, knowing God is our #1 fan, and He is!  This book is great for all women, but especially women who have any regrets about their past, who have been hurt in their past, who are alone now, trying to figure life out…etc.  I, like many, do have hurts in my past, and there are definitely things I regret.  But I’ve let them go, I’ve asked God for forgiveness and I’ve asked him to redeem my heart and to fill it with Him.  What a wonderful feeling and this book explains the benefit and the beauty of this process and how it’s there for all of us. 

We can all feel “captivating” to God, our Father, or Creator, and the One who loves us unconditionally.