Category Archives: faith

Experience Joy During the Holidays

The holiday season can be hectic, stressful and difficult for many people. When we compound that with issues of unforgiveness in our lives we are not able to fully rejoice and enjoy the season of gratitude and thankfulness.

Wounds that are not completely healed often cause unmet expectations, sadness and regrets. The litmus test to see whether a wound is completely healed is to ask yourself if you are uncomfortable when you see that person or you hear their name. If you feel discomfort, your wound is not healed. If your unhealed wound is a result of someone’s offense against you, there is a way to find healing.

Author and speaker Nan Brown Self unlocks the secret to experiencing and practicing this fundamental key to walking in freedom from our past offenses in her book Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace (Brown Books Publishing Group, 2017).

Nan has a passion for applying the teachings of Scripture to everyday life and has taught on the subject of forgiveness for over thirty-five years. But it was her own exhaustion and load of emotional baggage carried far too long that brought her to the foot of the Cross. “Why do you continually bring your burdens of unforgiveness but never leave them there,” she sensed the Lord saying. In seeking to answer His question, she found fresh perspective on one of the most fundamental teachings of Scripture and more importantly, experienced the grace of forgiveness that left her “past” where it belonged – at the Cross with Jesus.

With biblical insight, Nan helps the reader identify the roots of unforgiveness, experience healing of old wounds, begin the journey of restoring relationships, and maintain their walk in peace and freedom. Each chapter concludes with practical questions, a worksheet, and a prayer, making it ideal for study groups or private devotionals. Drawing from her personal encounter with the grace of forgiveness and the immutable truth of God’s Word, Nan charts the course to freedom from our past grievances and offers a prescription to maintaining that freedom on a daily basis.

“Forgiveness is the gift of grace from the heart of Jesus,” states Self. “He carried your sins to the cross and bore the pain of those sins so that you might be pardoned from their binding power and consequences. Through His grace, you receive a release from sin that you have not earned or deserved. In order to receive this gift, you need to accept His forgiving grace.”

www.ForgivenessByGrace.com

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The Pink Toolbelt – Spiritual Remodeling for Women

“The decision to be like Christ has touched every area of my life. Nothing has been harder to implement, yet nothing has been more rewarding. Because of the changes it has brought to my life, I am passionate about helping others remodel their lives according to the example we have in Christ.”         Mary C. Dodd

  • The Pink Toolbelt – Spiritual Remodeling for Women sounds interesting. What do you mean by spiritual remodeling?

Until just a few years ago, I was a carpenter by trade and spent my life building and remodeling homes, barns, whatever I could sink a nail into. Because of my background, I easily saw an analogy between the process used in remodeling homes and one that could be used to remodel lives. Spiritual remodeling is a process that begins by identifying areas of your life that you are unhappy about, tearing them out, and rebuilding them better than before. All under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of course. Our goal as Christians is Christlikeness, and I believe the spiritual remodeling idea presented in The Pink Toolbelt will help women reach that goal.

  • Women carpenters are a unique group. What started you down that road?

 I often tell people that I think I was born with sawdust running through my veins. I worked with my two brothers to complete my very first construction project. It was a tree house suspended some twenty feet in the air and was little more than a few boards nailed precariously to the branches of the tree. My father was a great influence as well. He built the home that we lived in and always had a project of some sorts in the works. After my brothers left home, I became his right-hand girl and spent countless hours holding the tape-measure and learning the tools of the trade.

After high school, I went to college to study elementary education. But after a year and much to my mother’s dismay, I joined a silo construction crew headed by my brother-in-law, Ron and we traveled the U.S tearing down, relocating, and rebuilding the big blue silos that dot America’s heartland.

  • You likely faced many challenges working in an industry dominated by men. Do you have any advice for young women who find themselves in a similar situation?

 Don’t try to be anyone other than yourself, work hard, and do your best. You have gifts and talents that only you bring to the project. Be proud of those gifts and give glory to GOD for them. I used to put on a tough girl façade, but at the first sight of a mouse, my blood curdling scream would quickly shatter that tough exterior. I soon realized that when I worked hard and did my best, I would always gain the respect of the men co-workers.

So, be the best ‘you’–a ‘you’ that is going through a spiritual remodel that will be an even better version of ‘you’–a Christ-like you.

  • How did you get from carpentry to writing a book, specifically The Pink Toolbelt.

Writing is another great passion of mine and when God began to radically change my world, it seemed a natural progression. Several years ago, my life, my marriage and my family was falling apart around me. As you often hear, I was at the bottom and didn’t know what to do except pray. It was out of that prayer that I heard God say, “You can trust Jesus—be like Him.” I took that to heart and decided that I wanted to be like Jesus in every area of my life. The Pink Toolbelt is my way of sharing the things I learned as I began to live my life as a true disciple of Jesus.

  • What makes you an expert on the subject of discipleship? Are you a bible teacher?

Not by any means. I’m just a carpenter following the Jewish carpenter, Jesus. His words have changed me, day by day, word by word, action by action. While some of my circumstances remain unchanged, I have changed. My perspective has changed. I no longer let circumstances bring me to a state of hopelessness, because I know that Father hears my prayers and is working things out for my good

My credentials come from simple obedience to Him. Father challenged me to be like Jesus in every area of my life. I rose to that challenge and as a result, every area of my life is being remodeled. I have learned to tear out un-Christlike thoughts and rebuild my mind with Christlike thoughts. I have learned to tear out words that are not His words and rebuild my speech with Christlike words. My actions, my attitudes, the way I forgive and resist temptation, even the way I love others and pray, are being remodeled into the way that Christ loved and prayed.

  • You wrote The Pink Toolbelt as a devotional. Can it be used in other ways?

 It’s a devotional in the sense, that the lessons are presented as 70 daily readings with a scripture, application questions and a prayer, but I like to think of it as a remodeling guide. It meets women right where they are and takes them on a step by step remodeling process that will move them from unhappiness to something better than the original. I believe it is also a great tool for small group discussions.

Each lesson draws from my real-life experiences and is presented with construction analogies and anecdotes in a style similar to the way that Jesus often taught. From learning to use the right tools, serving an apprenticeship, building in stormy weather, or passing final inspection, I develop the theme of remodeling one’s life through true discipleship with Christ.

I realize that many women may not think that they will relate to carpentry, but they will quickly find common ground with the principles that are covered. We may have different occupations or interests, but our needs are the same and God’s call to Christlikeness is the same.

www.marydodd.com

The Pink Toolbelt

With the walls of her family falling around her and an ever-present storm cloud of hopelessness overshadowing her, this carpenter from deep in the heart of Texas would begin the most important DIY project of her career. But this time, it was no building that would be transformed. Her very life would be slowly, but radically changed under the guiding hand of her Savior.

It is through this journey that Mary Dodd, a female carpenter following the Jewish carpenter, presents a practical guide for the everyday DIY woman in The Pink Toolbelt – Spiritual Remodeling for Women (Carpenter’s Guide Publishing, October 2017) – leading her readers to their own personal transformation to Christlikeness.

“The decision to be like Christ has touched every area of my life. Nothing has been harder to implement, yet nothing has been more rewarding,” reflects Dodd. “Because of the changes it has brought to my life, I am passionate about helping others remodel their lives according to the example we have in Christ.”

Throughout the book, Mary uses analogies from her lifelong work as a carpenter to illustrate and explain the spiritual lessons that she has learned. While some women might read The Pink Toolbelt in one sitting, it is designed to be read and used as a devotional guide. With the questions for application at the end of each chapter, the book can also serve as a great tool in group bible studies and ladies meetings. From learning to use the right tools, serving an apprenticeship, building in stormy weather, to passing final inspection, Mary develops the theme of remodeling one’s life through true discipleship with Christ.

The Pink Toolbelt is no study on the theory of spiritual transformation but is a work born out of Mary’s apprenticeship served in the workshop of the Master Carpenter – Jesus. In 70 daily readings, she will guide the reader through their very own remodeling process, enabling them to more closely match the life that Jesus intended them to live.

Mary will tell you that she was born with sawdust in her veins. From the rich, black-dirt farmlands of Minnesota, her fledgling instincts were fostered under the steady hand of her father who built the house she grew up in with her 7 brothers and sisters. When her brothers left home, she quickly became his right-hand girl, spending countless hours holding the flashlight, learning the tools of the trade, and assisting him in his next great project. As an adult, she pursued her passion as a carpenter in an industry where less than 2% of the jobs are held by women.

Today, along with her husband Tony, Mary leads Carpenter’s Guide Ministries, a non-profit dedicated to rebuilding the lives of others. They both enjoy sharing their story and the principles they have learned at conferences, seminars, retreats, and churches. In addition to The Pink Toolbelt, Mary will release her new marriage primer, Remodel Your Marriage in 2018. She also regularly shares her love for Christ and spiritual remodeling tips through her blog.

The Pink Toolbelt Spiritual Remodeling for Women by Mary Dodd

Carpenter’s Guide Publishing

www.marydodd.com

Lessons from a World War II American Odyssey

The stories of our past, real or imagined, serve as classrooms for today’s traveler. They reveal humanity at its best and at its worst, and as spoken often throughout history, those who fail to learn its lessons are doomed to repeat its mistakes. In the first of a two-part saga, author and historian John J. Dwyer draws from the written and unwritten pages of American history, to weave a story that could parallel today’s headlines.

Dwyer’s Shortgrass (Tiree Press, May 2017) offers a realism that differs from your typical historical novel revealing the grit and determination that defined “The Greatest Generation.” The story’s characters embody the many real life heroes that traveled similar paths during those turbulent times of world conflict and human survival and the lessons taught reveal something of the author himself.

“While the story is set in a different era, Shortgrass, and its sequel, Mustang, are the closest thing to my own written testament to those who come after me. They depict what I have learned about love and loss, history and heroes, inner conflict and unanswered questions, God and man – life itself,” offers Dwyer. “Although a work of fiction, the history and the lessons it teaches us are timeless and real.”

The adventurous journey of a Mennonite farm boy, Lance Roark, begins in the drought-ravaged Dust Bowl of Oklahoma where his battle for survival would prepare him for college gridiron glory. As war clouds gather across the seas, he is smitten with teenaged Chickasaw cowgirl and stunt flyer Sadie Stanton. He later finds love with Mary Katherine Murchison, a beautiful oil heiress and singing star of the Big Band Era.

He eventually enters the dangerous world of America First, the Lindbergh-led organization opposing Roosevelt’s drive toward American involvement in the War. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, his lifelong commitment never to raise his hand against another human soul brings him to his own crisis of conscience. He is faced with the decision whether or not to accept command of a B-17 Flying Fortress in which he would witness, and inflict, mass slaughter in Nazi occupied Europe amidst history’s most fearsome war.

“John Dwyer writes as he thinks: lucidly, dynamically, engagingly. Wherever John takes you, you’ll be glad you went. And you will want to go again.”

Reg Grant,
Senior Professor and Chair of Media Arts & Worship
Dallas Theological Seminary

John J. Dwyer earned his Master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and his undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Since 2006, he has been adjunct professor of history and ethics at Southern Nazarene University. He is former history chair at Coram Deo Academy, near Dallas, Texas. John is the author of the The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War, the historical novels Stonewall and Robert E. Lee, the novel When Bluebonnets Come and the recently released, The Oklahomans: The Story of Oklahoma and Its People. John is also the former editor and publisher of the Dallas/Fort Worth Heritage newspaper and also worked as a radio announcer and play-by-play football and basketball announcer for several radio stations, winning the coveted position of sports director for the University of Oklahoma’s 100,000 watt KGOU-FM radio station.

www.johnjdwyer.com

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Helping Fathers Part 2

Part 2 of Q&A with Tim Bayly, author of Daddy Tried

timbaylyQ: Your father was a notable author and pastor and you freely draw from your family experiences throughout the book. What are a couple of things that you learned about fatherhood through his example?

A: I was the second of five brothers. Three of them died – one from leukemia, one cystic fibrosis, and my older brother from a Christmas sledding accident. Watching both of my parents deal with their pain while maintaining an unwavering faith though it all was instrumental in shaping my idea of fatherhood. My remaining brother and I grew up hearing them say they were never as certain of God’s love as when they walked away from the fresh grave of one of their children.

Secondly, recognizing Dad’s love for me when he kicked me out of his house. I was nineteen and one Saturday morning he quietly said to me, “Tim, you are not honoring God and you may not live in my home any longer.” I tell the longer version in the book, but Dad never loved me more faithfully than that day, and I came to learn what it meant to fear the Lord above yielding to the fears of men.

Q: Obviously, your family had a personal experience with grief. What would you say to fathers who have been crippled by personal loss of a loved one?

A: Grief is hard work that must not be avoided. If it is avoided, you and your loved ones will pay a steep price. Mourn. Shed tears. Be weak and be quiet. Take your grief to God in prayer. Get good at noticing how God uses your suffering to help others. Suffering is a gift from the hand of our loving Heavenly Father. Thank God for His care for you and your loved ones because giving thanks will inoculate you against bitterness.

Q: What is the most important advice that you would give to a young father today?

A; Don’t be afraid. Our Heavenly Father specializes in making the stupid wise, the weak strong, and the fearful bold as lions. You are the perfect man to be the husband of your wife and the father of your children. Throw out your video games, drop out of fantasy football, stop looking at Facebook, close your laptop, confess your sin to your elders, ask them to pray for you, then enjoy your kids.

Q: Apart from a man’s personal responsibility to his own children, what would you say to any man about his role in society and how he can help shape the next generation of fathers?

A: Be willing to take responsibility outside your home. Serve as an elder or deacon of your church and take responsibility for guarding God’s truth as well as the souls in your congregation.

Outside your home and church, if there’s an accident and someone needs help, step in and do what is needed. Give to the poor. Help the widows and orphans. Protect the weak and defenseless from the attack of the wicked. Always speak up in defense of God and His truth, and do it cheerfully. Remember that everywhere you go you are being copied and followed by other men who are learning to be fathers themselves.

Whether or not God has blessed him with children, father is what every man is and his fatherhood is needed as much outside the home as it is inside the home.

For more information please visit https://DaddyTriedbook.com

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Finding Peace in India

Trevor with group at HBII am in India this week. My husband, Terry, is teaching pastors and their wives. I am supporting with video, pictures, prayer, and the like. I like my support role. I find it peaceful to record the stories as I listen to the people talk. I love watching their faces as they connect through the translator with Terry’s American stories.

Yesterday, we listened to them tell us their stories. I have done this in the past when meeting new pastors. Many of them are heartbreaking…almost beaten to death, rejected by their families and cast out to live on the streets by their own parents because of their faith in Christ, being sold into prostitution, alcoholism, drug addiction, attempts at suicide and much more. I have found a single thread that runs almost every story. They just wanted peace.

Life is pretty simple here. You work to get your food and clothing for each day. Your expectations, if you have any, are low and simply based on improving your life. You don’t have many other possessions. Although they drive like maniacs, it is a much slower pace of life in some sense. But many of the people don’t experience any rest or peace.

Perhaps their lack of peace is due to the fact that 3.2 million people live in the same land area as my hometown of Corsicana – population 25,000. The city literally never sleeps. Or could it be because they have no assurance of what tomorrow will bring and no way to plan for it? The day before we arrived they had an unseasonable amount of rainfall accompanied by a hailstorm. Now their crops are ruined and the cost of food has gone up 100%. Their lack of peace might also be due to their religion that offers the impossible task of appeasing a variety of gods that are “unpleasable”. They have a deterministic outlook on life, because that same religion teaches that everyone will get another chance in their next life.

Another common thread in their stories is the sense of instantaneous peace they find when they meet Jesus. The look on their entire face as they share that experience is both breathtaking and overwhelming. The local pastor, Trevor, says that people can recognize a believer just by looking at their face. He says it is because they see peace and light.

In the midst of this newly found peace, their life circumstances still do not change. They still work every day for the food they need. Some days they go without. They wear the same clothes every day. They travel hundreds of miles for 2-3 days just to hear someone teach God’s word, always in very rough conditions and sometimes experiencing persecution. But they are at peace.

Maybe that is why I like coming here so much. I sense God’s peace in a very dark place. I wish I could bottle it and bring it home with me. When I return home, I always find myself starting to rush and be anxious about the things I need to get done. And I am supposed to know better! I am praying that God will give me peace as I return, and remind me to bring my anxious thoughts to him like my brothers and sisters here in India.

So as I am finishing up, I’m thinking, “Do people who are in darkness around us see peace and light when they look at our faces?

John 14:27 My peace I leave with you….

Tina Jacobson is founder and CEO of The Barnabas Agency.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

JaipurThe Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened on March 6th. My husband and I were eagerly anticipating and hoping to see the movie before we left for India but the schedule didn’t allow. We thought its predecessor, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a great movie, very entertaining. But what made it special for us is that we went to Jaipur, India after it released and actually saw the place where it was filmed. Because of our firsthand knowledge of life in Jaipur, we could relate on many levels. Having friends in India and “doing” ministry there, we hoped that the second would be just as good. Hey, if it has Richard Gere in it, it has to be, right?!

At this very moment, we are back in Jaipur and we hear that the reviews have not been so great. But it made me think about PR. (I know. You are asking, “What doesn’t?”)
With the success of the first movie and cast including Richard Gere and Judy Dench, expectations for the sequel were high. The first week grossed more than $8 million and by the second week the total was $12 million. I am not a movie critic or expert, but I’m not sure this is what everyone had hoped for.

So what happened?

The reviews by moviegoers were great, most were 10s, but the response from movie critics was not so great. Did their opinion keep people away? Was it the time of release? Was it a poorly written story line? Poor acting? (Hard to believe with that cast!) Was it promoted well enough? (Probably so. I saw it everywhere.) We may never know for sure.
Such is the nature of PR. With all of the work that goes into promoting and building a public platform, you never know for sure what will “stick” and resonate with the audience. I am sure that the PR strategists behind this film did their homework and knew their audience. I am confident they did everything possible to get the actors placed on the right shows, posted throughout social media, and the trailers were spectacular, sure to capture the attention of anyone enamored with the exotic feel of India. Since I haven’t seen it yet, I can’t comment on the storyline…was it weak?

Sometimes a book is promoted well, has a great cover, the authors receive rave reviews only to see it fizzle because the writing is not that great, the message doesn’t resonate or the author fails to “stay” in the public eye to continue to promote the book. There are other times that little is done in the way of promotion yet it rips through a certain demographic and finds its way onto the best-seller list (e.g. – David Platt’s Radical or Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz) and in the process, provides a platform for the author where they now have a “voice” that people will listen to.

I say that it all goes back to spaghetti. “Spaghetti,” you ask? Yes, spaghetti! Throw it on the wall and see if it sticks. And throw a lot of it. And keep throwing it. Throw different kinds of spaghetti (angel hair, fettuccini, lasagna, etc.) and see what the audience likes. Sometimes you are not surprised by the results and sometime you are.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be strategic or targeted, but the truth is that sometimes we are surprised, sometimes maybe not, but we have to keep trying.

What are you doing that is working for you? How are you promoting your message, building your platform? I would love to hear from you!

Tina Jacobson is the founder and CEO of The Barnabas Agency.