Weakness and Failure Will Build Your Faith by @vaneetharisner

This article by Vaneetha RisnerWeakness and Failure Will Build Your Faith” posted on DesiringGod.org spoke to me. There is a link to the article below, also a couple quotes I plan to refer to from time to time as reminder about what being blessed truly is and what it is not.

“Trust God. He is going to use everything in your life to draw you closer to him. Don’t waste your suffering, for it will be the making of your faith. And one day, as your faith becomes sight, you will be grateful for it all.” Vaneetha Risner

“You are holding onto meaningless things, and you are believing in yourself for the wrong reasons. Stop judging your life by your achievements or “blessings,” whether material or relational or reputational, because none of them will last. What you now consider blessings will be taken away, and when they are, you will discover that being blessed is deeper and more lasting than you can imagine.” Vaneetha Risner 

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/weakness-and-failure-will-build-your-faith

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Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher, Ph.D.

This last Summer, my wife and I listed to much of the audio version of Reviving Ophelia. Being published in 1996, the material is dated as far as social media and mobile device usage in 2017.  The depth and understanding of adolescent girls, their life experiences and how they handled them is so worth listening to.

Reviving Ophelia (Buy on Amazon)

Why are adolescent girls prone to depression, eating disorders, addictions and suicide attempts than ever before? Mary Pipher believes adolescence is an especially precarious time for girls, a time when the fearless, outgoing child is replaced by an unhappy and insecure teenager. Her view is that for the most part it is our look-obsessed, media-saturated, ‘girl-poisoning’ culture – and not parents – which is to blame. Despite the advances of feminism, escalating levels of sexism and violence cause girls to stifle their creative spirit and natural impulses, which, ultimately, destroys their self-esteem. Yet it is often their families that are blamed. Here, for the first time, are the girls unmuted voices. By laying bare their harsh day-to-day reality, Reviving Ophelia offers parents compassion, strength and strategies with which to revive these Ophelias’ lost sense of self.

©1996 Mary Pipher, Ph.D., (P)1996 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.

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‘Follow Me’ from Luke’s Gospel with Mike Raiter

Last week, during a long overdue call with a friend, he mentioned he had just attended a Men’s conference that had great impact on him. The theme of his talks was ‘Follow Me’ including readings from Luke’s Gospel, the speaker was  Mike Raiter.

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The talks from Mike were indeed good, the take away’s from the Panels were helpful, too. Terrific reminders to me to stay committed to developing deep relationships, being intention about creating friendships, being vulnerable and accountable, sharing real challenges, praying together.

The Generous Disciple (Luke 12)

by Mike Raiter

The Grateful Disciple (Luke 17)

by Mike Raiter

The Dependent Disciple (Luke 18)

by Mike Raiter

The Productive Disciple  (Luke 19)

by Mike Raiter

Panel: Men and Friendship

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Left To Tell by Immaculée @Ilibagiza #GLS2017

Last month, I had the honor to hear Immaculée speak at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. There were many wonderful speakers but after listening to her, I had to own her book.

Immaculée spoke about forgiving the vary people that killed her family during the genocide in Rwanda, how God is real and the power of prayer.

After reading Left to Tell, I’ve discovered many areas in my life I can work on; my faith, the importance of forgiveness, my prayer life and in particular asking for God’s direction and His purpose for my life.

I highly recommend reading Left to Tell.

Left To Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza

Left To Tell

Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

by  IMMACULÉE ILIBAGIZA

HayHouse.com: $15.99

Availability: Usually ships within 2 to 3 business days

Publisher: Hay House, Publication Date: 4/7/14 ISBN: 9781401944322

 

Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.

Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them. It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerged from her bathroom hideout having discovered the meaning of truly unconditional love-a love so strong she was able seek out and forgive her family’s killers. The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.

About Left To Tell

Immaculee shares her miraculous story of how she survived during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 when she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days! In this captivating and inspiring book, Immacuee shows us how to embrace the power of prayer, forge a profound and lasting relationship with God, and discover the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of truly unconditional love and understanding—through our darkest hours.

A portion of the proceeds from book sales will be donated directly to the Left to Tell Charitable Fund.

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All in one long drive: Accepting rejection, Changing habits and “Who needs God?”

Recently, on a long drive home after dropping my Son off at camp, I listened to several Ted Talk summaries on Ted Radio Hour, followed by a series of 6 Podcasts by Andy Stanley titled “Who needs God?”

The “accepting rejection” Ted talk was helping in thinking about rejection differently, from a perspective of opportunity rather than anything else. The “changing habits” Ted Talk was a good reminder and an offer of hope, I’m two weeks into putting my keys and wallet in the same place each time I return home, I’m a work in progress.

RE: Who needs God? This is just a great series of podcasts by Andy Stanley, a terrific follow-up to several self-help Ted Talks.

TED RADIO HOUR

Jia Jiang: Can You Train Yourself To Accept Rejection?

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/532820561/533102787

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/532840752/533105923

“Who needs God?” by @AndyStanley #GCTOGOD

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Bad things happen, they remind me how my choices create the possibility for tragic results, changing the course of many lives forever #GCTOGOD

Yesterday (7/1/2017), I watched as the story broke about the death of Bianca Roberson, in what is being called a case of “road rage”, today, David Desper is charged with murder.

So many times over the years, I too, have participated in what could only be defined as “road rage.”  One time, a convertible sports car  aggressively cut me off as I was driving into New York City on the 59th street bridge, initially ignoring him, then, as I was coming off the bridge, I noticed the guy in convertible, I had the opportunity to repay the favor, which I did, cutting him off aggressively. This infuriated the man and he started driving beside me erratically. Finally, near Central Park, he began banging on my closed window, demanding to talk. Ignoring him didn’t work, I finally held of my “bag” phone (this was a while ago) and asked if I should call the police to help resolve, he then went speeding off. As I think about Bianca, this could have been me, the victim, however, I could have also caused the guy in the convertible to be killed by my behavior, quickly making me the victimizer.

With Ms. Roberson and whomever killed her; Ms. Roberson’s life ended prematurely, her family and friends broken and for the person that pulled the trigger, a life upended, also a family and friends broken. This blog post isn’t  about passing judgement on either party but rather a reminder to myself not to let the little things bother me which I so often do.

I am reminded of Mark 12:28-31 (NIV) where Jesus explains what the greatest commandment in the bible is, followed by the second.

“The Greatest Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.””

It’s my hope and prayer that the next time I believe I’m being treated unfairly or misunderstood that I remember these verses and love God first and love others as myself, paving the way to increase God, decreasing myself, staying in the present, creating the opportunity to have a  positive impact on others instead of a negative one.

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“Who needs God?” by @AndyStanley #GCTOGOD

Who needs God? Perhaps nobody. Perhaps everybody. Perhaps we should talk about it.
Listened to this series of talks  by Andy Stanley on a run last week. Great listening.

 

 1  Who Needs God, Part One – Atheist 2.0  Americans are migrating away from religion, particularly Christianity, at an unprecedented rate. Once upon a time, Americans believed religion offered solutions. Today, religion is viewed by many as the problem. View in iTunes  Free 4/15/2017
 2  Who Needs God, Part Two – Gods of the No Testament         Typically, people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in a particular version of God. But what if they have the wrong version? What if you have the wrong version? If you’ve walked away from faith or religion, it could be that your version of god
View in iTunes  Free 4/22/2017
 3  Who Needs God, Part Three – The Bible Told Me So  If the Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith, then as the Bible goes, so goes the legitimacy of Christianity. But what if the Bible shouldn’t hold that much weight in the debate? In this episode, Andy explains that Christianity doesn’t exist be View in iTunes  Free 4/29/2017
 4  Who Needs God, Part Four – The God of Jesus  It’s easy to get caught between doubt and despair when we’ve always assumed God to be something he’s not. If God has lost his appeal because we’ve mixed him up with a gaggle of gods that don’t exist, then how can we know what God is really like? View in iTunes
 Free 5/6/2017
5  Who Needs God, Part Five – In-Justice For All  We all want to rid the world of injustice. But we can only recognize injustice if we know what justice is to begin with. We don’t always agree about what is just. So, who gets to define justice? View in iTunes  Free 5/13/2017
 6  Who Needs God, Part Six – I Do  We all want to be masters of our own destinies. We all want to feel in control of our lives. The idea of autonomy is attractive; it makes life feel ordered and predictable. One of the biggest barriers to belief in God’s existence is that we don’t want View in iTunes7
Free 5/20/2017

 

 

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Don’t Waste Your Pain by @RickWarren

Yesterday, I was challenge when a friend explained how he talks with people in the deli line that he doesn’t know, sometimes sharing about the pain in his life. The chat reminded me of a podcast “Don’t Waste Your Pain” by Rick Warren. The chat with my friend and a reread of this post is a good reminder to me to not waste my pain.

Pastor Rick finished the talk with these words”

“Don’t waste your pain. If you hide it and hold it back, it doesn’t do any good. But if you’re honest with God and yourself and with other people, God can use the thing you hate the most in your life, that you’re most disappointed by, and that you wish had never happened. God says, “You can’t change what happened to you. But I can use it for your benefit and for my purposes. When you’re willing to share your brokenness, I can use it to help other people.””

The complete blog post is below including a link to listen to the audio or subscribe to DailyHope with Rick Warren

 

Don’t Waste Your Pain

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“He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives.” (2 Corinthians 1:4-5 CEV)

Your greatest ministry will flow out of your pain — not out of your strengths or your talents but out of the painful experiences of your life. It is your weaknesses that help other people in their need, not your strengths.

A great example of this is the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul says that he was in a time of his life when he was so discouraged that he was ready to kick the bucket. He despaired of life itself. He was ready to give up on life. He was ready to crawl in a corner and die. And Paul was probably the greatest Christian who ever lived except for Jesus!

But Paul was able to say this in 2 Corinthians 1:2-5: “I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives” (CEV).

Who can be more sympathetic than somebody who has already been through what another person is going through right now? Who can better help the parent of a special needs child than a parent who raised a special needs child? Who can better help somebody going through a bankruptcy than somebody who has gone through it before? Who can better help somebody experiencing the heartbreak of divorce than somebody who remembers how terrible it felt? Who can better help somebody who’s been abused or molested than somebody who has been abused or molested?

Don’t waste your pain. If you hide it and hold it back, it doesn’t do any good. But if you’re honest with God and yourself and with other people, God can use the thing you hate the most in your life, that you’re most disappointed by, and that you wish had never happened. God says, “You can’t change what happened to you. But I can use it for your benefit and for my purposes. When you’re willing to share your brokenness, I can use it to help other people.”

Talk It Over

  • What is the painful experience in your life that you want God to use for good in someone else’s life?
  • Who do you need to forgive so that you can move on from your pain and release it for God to use in ministry?
  • Who do you think you can share your experience with so that they can receive God’s comfort?
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Thankful for these 10 @timkellernyc tweets: Humbled, have hope, forgiven, forward progress, not perfection

Sometime in the early 90’s, I began attending Redeemer Presbyterian Church. I believe I went the first time when a friend from my home town was visiting New York City. In ’94, I was married, my wife was later baptized at Redeemer. Only recently, TimKellerI finally discarded the boxes of cassette tapes with my favorite Tim Keller sermons (thankfully most of them are now online, many free).

While I now attend church on Long Island, my family does manage to visit Redeemer a few times each year. In between visits, I truly value reading Tim Keller’s tweets. Each a little nugget that weaves nicely into where I’m at on my journey as a Christ Follower in progress. I retweet the ones I want to be able to refer back to at a later date.

The last 10 retweets from my Twitter account @IAMFollowerTodd follow.

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My March 2017 #FavoriteBibleVerses delivered by @GoTandem

In September 2013, a man in Hong Kong explained to me that his companies research (link below) showed that engaging with the bible at least 4 times per week could change peoples lives. They built a free mobile app called GoTandem to help facilitate their findings. I downloaded the app the evening after we met and have been using it ever since. When you start, the app has a brief survey that then enables bible verses to be custom tailored. I’ve retaken taken the survey a couple times to adjust the bible verses to my circumstances. Below are my favorite bible verses from March 2017.

Details about the research:

“The Power of 4 Effect A key discovery from the CBE research is that the life of someone who engages scripture 4 or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.” – Link for more details about research

 

My March 2017 favorite bible verses.

  • Body and Soul

    Use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Romans 6:13

  • Revenge Recipe

    Never pay back evil with more evil. Romans 12:17

  • Trouble Times Fifty Billion

    Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. Psalm 16:4

  • Fire Tongue

    The tongue is a flame of fire…a whole world of wickedness…It can set your whole life on fire. James 3:6

  • Take Up Your Cross

    “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34

  • Concerned With the Heart

    “Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

  • Don’t be a Slave

    Even though I am allowed to do anything, I must not become a slave to anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

  • Heartguard

    “Guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:15

  • Protective Peace

    [God’s] peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

  • Think and Exercise

    Think clearly and exercise self-control. 1 Peter 1:13

  • Broken Bodies, Raised Anew

    Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. 1 Corinthians 15:43

  • Dubloons and Emeralds

    “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21

  • The Wasting Power of Refusal

    When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Psalm 32:3

  • Cravings

    The world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, [and] a craving for everything we see. 1 John 2:16

  • Lasting

    Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:30

  • A New Hymn

    He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3

  • Who’s the Boss?

    Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23

  • Protecting Others

    Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. Romans 14:1

  • Satisfaction Breeds Complacency

    “But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me” [says the LORD]. Hosea 13:6

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