God Sightings: How Often Has He Passed through Your Life Unnoticed?

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Today’s guest post is by Don Cousins, trusted teacher, leadership coach, and author of Unexplainable: Pursuing a Life Only God Can Make Possible—an intuitive resource designed to help people find true fulfillment by shifting their life view from outside-in to inside-out. Discover how to pursue a joyful life that can only be found in Christ—download Unexplainable on Vyrso today!

Did you make note of God when he passed by your life today? I would bet he gave you several chances to spot him. He may have shown up in the form of an answered prayer, or in a conversation that went in a very different, but wonderful direction than you expected. He may have provided wisdom, direction, or discernment for some matter that’s been puzzling you, or maybe a word of encouragement at just the right time from an unexpected source. God is making appearances in, through, and around our lives on a regular basis. Unfortunately, we all too often fail to see him.

God longs for you to see him

It was August of 1998, and I was seated at our dining-room table having my morning time with God. It was early, and MaryAnn and our three kids were still sound asleep. I opened my Bible to Mark 6 and began reading. It turned out to be a very familiar chapter, filled with familiar stories. Jesus summoned the 12, gave some quick instructions, and sent them out to do ministry. They returned at the end of the day, and Jesus suggested they get away to a “lonely place” where they could rest and catch dinner. Mark tells us it had been a long and busy day and that they hadn’t had time to eat. As their boat came ashore, they discovered that their “lonely place” wasn’t so lonely. Word of their ministry that day spread and a crowd of people wanted more. What unfolds is the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

I asked God for some fresh insight as I read and reread the story of the feeding, but nothing new came to mind. Hoping to get something more out of my time in God’s Word, I read on to when Jesus walks on water:

“And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified” (Mark 6:48–50).

I was struck by the words “He meant to pass by them,”—why would he pass by them? Why wouldn’t he just get in the boat? What came to mind was this: he wanted to see if they truly knew who he was. Sadly, they didn’t “get it.” They saw him, but concluded it was a ghost; after all, real men don’t walk on water. The cultural beliefs of the day led them to believe that evil spirits dwelt in the sea and came out at night. They were frightened.

Jesus got in the boat and the wind stopped and they were greatly astonished. Why would they be astonished? They had just watched him feed 5,000 men (the crowd including women and children was far greater) with five loaves and two fish. Certainly, he was capable of walking on water. Verse 52 in Mark 6 provides the explanation: “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” Jesus had displayed his true identity to his disciples at least twice that day. God made an appearance, yet they failed to see him. Oh what a difference it would have made that night with the wind and the waves against them had they seen the one who controls the wind and the waves. Fear would have turned to peace.

Take note of your God sightings

As I sat at my dining-room table, I asked myself: how many times has Jesus passed by my life unnoticed? I made a commitment that morning to a new practice that I’ve done every day since then, and will do for the rest of my life: I take time every few days to consider the events of my life—all of them—and make note of all my God Sightings, writing them in my prayer journal.

When the wind and the waves of life come against me, and my fist is clenched in frustration with God, I often go to that section of my journal and read through my God Sightings. And upon doing this, my fist opens and my palm is raised heavenward in worship. Oh what a difference it makes when we see God in everyday life. I call this the “Unexplainable,” apart from God life. This is the life I want to live.

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Learn more about noticing God every day and discover how to pursue a fulfilled life only found through Christ: download Don Cousins’ Unexplainable: Pursuing a Life Only God Can Make Possible on Vyrso today!

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6 Ways to Worship God Outside of Church

iStock_000015408259SmallGod is worthy of worship through the duration of our days. Oftentimes it’s difficult to unravel how this works outside of our church attendance on Sundays. However, God has crafted our souls, designed our world, and granted us every tool necessary to worship him whenever, wherever, and basically, however.

Here are six ways you can worship God outside of church at any given moment:

1.   Accept the fact that you’re accepted

Genuinely accepting the fact that we’re loved, welcomed, and fully accepted by God outweighs any other style of worship. The truth is there’s nothing about you that needs to improve, develop, or change in order for you to be more loved by God. You’re already loved in full regardless of how you look, act, or feel.

God is most highly worshipped when we are most satisfied in his love. We are most satisfied in his love when we accept that it’s free. We must accept the fact that we’re accepted.

2.   Read the Word

We must guard our time in God’s Word. Consistently reading and dwelling in our Bibles is a sure way to expand our worship. Scripture is a primary tool God has entrusted us with for the purpose of worshiping him through knowing him.

3.   Pray

Jesus came to claim us and connect us as children of God. Just like children have open access with their dads to voice their concerns, express their feelings, and ask silly questions, we have open access as God’s children to do the same through prayer. Here’s what’s stunning: we don’t burden him with our puny voices and requests. He is passionate about us. He longs to hear from us and respond to us in love.

We worship God by communicating with God. We can pray often and expectantly, that when we knock, our loving God will open the door.

4.   Serve & love people

God lives in us—through the Holy Spirit—to be known through us. By simply spending time in community with the people God has placed in your life, you get to know God more as he has the potential to interact with you through their words and love.

Here’s the beauty: this goes both ways. God has purposefully placed you in the lives of others for them to know him better through your words and love. Whether you’re aware of it or not, God lives in you to be known through you.

When we encourage, serve, and love people, God is worshipped as he interacts with the people around us, through us.

5.   Rest

Slowing down can seem impossible as our lives become crowded with never-ending plans and to-do lists. We can worship God by loosening our grip on our “have to” tasks, allowing God to destruct our plans and tear apart our to-do lists in the name of rest and refreshment.

A beautiful way to do this (and a strategy used by Jesus) is to go to a quiet place in the wilderness. Today, our wilderness may simply be a place distant from the distractions of our everyday lives—our phones, jobs, etc. Drop them off and rest. Stare at God’s creation in wonder of its beauty, and rest. This is worshipful to God.

6.   Do what you love

Here’s the catchall: we can worship God by simply doing the things we love. God has given our hearts enjoyment, and our enjoyment pleases God. These enjoyments vary on an individual basis. Do you love to paint? Paint. Do you love to read? Read. Do you love to be with your family? Be with your family.

We can worship God by doing the very things he has made us love.

The Worshipful Devotional Bundle will guide you into natural, daily worship by infusing your day with spiritual reflections, a collection of prayers, and an exploration of Scripture. Get the entire bundle now for only $13.50—that’s 70% off!

You’ll get:

  • Pause for Power by Warren Wiersbe
  • The Heart of Worship by David Cook
  • The Same Love by Paul Baloche
  • A Well-Worn Path by Dan Wilt

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Ends Soon: Get 32 Books for Just 99 Cents Each!

Shepherding a Child's Heart

You only have four more days to take advantage of huge savings on 32 Shepherd Press titles! Last week, we launched our new partnership with Shepherd Press—a publishing company committed to printing gospel- and heart-focused books—by offering 32 of their titles for just 99 cents each.

Regularly, all Shepherd Press titles combined would cost $155.68, but download these books today and save $124. Get all 32 titles for just $31.68!

Prices increase after April 14, so get these great deals on books about parenting, grace, marriage, and ministry today.

99-cent books

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Written for parents with children of any age, this widely popular book provides perspectives and procedures for shepherding your child’s heart into the paths of life. In this revised edition, Dr. Tedd Tripp draws on 30 years’ experience as a pastor, counselor, and school administrator to help parents address heart issues—like selfishness, rebellion, and unhappiness—with biblically sound guidance.

Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp

Sin has ravaged the house God created. Our world sits slumped, disheveled, and painfully waiting for restoration that can only come from Christ. The bad news is that we’re living amidst the restoration process. The good news is that our divine builder won’t give up until his house stands tall and strong again. In this powerful book, Tripp uses the image of a broken-down house to illustrate God’s unceasing and all mighty power that encourages us to live productively in a damaged world.

Rediscovering Family Worship by Jerry Marcellino

For many, the idea of “worship” is the 20 minutes spent singing at church. But that’s not God’s plan. Worship should take place every single day, and it should start at home. This compact and practical guide clearly presents Scripture’s call to family worship and offers powerful suggestions for worshipping with your family every day. Download Rediscovering Family Worship for just 99 cents, and get inspired for genuine worship.

Free Indeed: Escaping Bondage and Brokenness for Freedom in Christ by Richard Ganz

In this book, Dr. Richard Ganz—a pastor for over 25 years—exposes the patterns of thought and behavior that trap Christians and keep them from finding freedom in Christ; not self-centered freedom, but true freedom found through Jesus that affects every area of your life. Discover what you’re a slave to, and how to break through spiritual barriers to find lasting freedom.

Get Outta My Face! How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel by Rick Horne

Teenagers of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds are confused, insecure, and completely focused on what they want right now. Regardless of their misplaced desires, all teenagers were made in the image of God. Get Outta My Face! offers an honest approach to both helping Christian teens mature and evangelizing to unsaved teens. This book is perfect for parents, teachers, and youth pastors wanting to rebuild bridges between adults and teenagers and help shape teens into who God created them to be.

Red like Blood: Confrontations with Grace by Bob Bevington and Joe Coffey

Explosive, pervasive, sweet, powerful, relentless, amazing, devastating, raw, beautiful—these are all words used to describe a single reality: grace. Grace is not flat or one-dimensional; it’s a jewel with many facets that when held up against the light is absolutely captivating. In this book, find story after story of brokenness redeemed through grace, as told through the lives of two men.

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Save over $120 by downloading all 32 titles before April 14! Download all Shepherd Press titles for $31.68 or shop individual books for just 99 cents each.

Hurry—prices increase in four days!

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When Sinners Say “I Do”: 99-Cent Books on Marriage, Parenting, and More!

When Sinners Say I Do

For a limited time, get When Sinners Say “I Do” and 31 other Shepherd Press titles for only 99 cents a piece! Get all 32 books for just $31.68.

When Sinners Say “I Do”

No matter how you cut it, all marriages are composed of damaged, selfish, and incredibly optimistic people. In his When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for MarriageDave Harvey shares gospel strategies for encouraging sinners to learn to be lovers.

As he says in the preface:

“If you are married, or soon to be married, you are discovering that your marriage is not a romance novel. Marriage is the union of two people who arrive toting the luggage of life. And that luggage always contains sin. Often it gets opened right there on the honeymoon, sometimes it waits for the week after. But the suitcases are always there, sometimes tripping their owners, sometimes popping open unexpectedly and disgorging forgotten contents. We must not ignore our sin, because it is the very context where the gospel shines brightest.

The focus of marriage is God’s glory

Harvey begins to lay out the purpose of marriage with this powerful bombshell:

“When we begin to orient our marriages around biblical truth, we see something amazing. Marriage was not just invented by God, it belongs to God. He has a unique claim over its design, purpose, and goals. It actually exists for him more than it exists for you and me and our spouses.”

In the rest of When Sinners Say “I Do,”  Harvey lays out the best practices for reorienting ourselves to this powerful truth.

The power of this book lies in the focus. It doesn’t offer us a to-do list of things that every successful spouse needs to do to make their marriage work. Instead, it encourages us to do the more profound and difficult work of changing our perspective and seeing our marriages—no, scratch that—our lives in a different light.

Get 32 titles for 99 cents each!

For a limited time, When Sinners Say “I Do” and other Shepherd Press books are only 99 cents each!

You’ll get a great deal on the bestselling Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp, and on these other helpful books:

Save on all 32 Shepherd Press titles now!

 

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Finding Time for Jesus in Your 24/7 Life

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You’re busy. Between your job and family, home hardly feels like a place of rest. If you want to make time for yourself, you have to check it against what’s going on in your kids’ lives—school, sports, music lessons, homework, and friends. You make time for your family, or for your job, but are you making time for yourself?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the busyness of life. When you stretch yourself so thin, stress and anxiety can get the better of you. When your schedule is packed to the brim, any little hiccup in your day can push you over the edge.

What’s stress saying to you?

Sometimes, the stress and anxiety we experience are signals that it’s time to cut back. Or maybe you need to recognize the things you can’t control. Jesus offers us a gentle invitation when we experience stress. He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28–30).

When life keeps piling on, ask yourself, “What’s holding it all together?” Your determination? Your dreams? Your children’s happiness? If your answer is anything but Jesus, that might just be why the stress and anxiety feel like too much to bear. God isn’t necessarily telling you that you have to do less. But living life to the fullest doesn’t mean filling all 24 hours of your day either (John 10:10).

Where are the cracks in your life?

It’s easy to feel like you don’t have time for God. Spending time with God is just one more thing that you would do more if you didn’t have so much going on. People depend on you. They need things from you. You feel selfish for even thinking about taking time for yourself. But time with God is different, and you do have time for it.

If your life is already packed, start by filling in the cracks with Jesus. While you’re standing in line at the grocery store. When you’re waiting in the car for your kids. At lunch. These are the perfect times to open up a daily devotional and see what God has to say to you right there, in that moment. And here’s the thing: when you give time to God, the rest of your time is worth more.

The God who exists outside of time strips stress of its power. When you let God restore you daily, you can put anxiety in its place (Psalm 23:1–4). God wants you to live life to the fullest, and when you let him into the cracks, he shapes you into a better parent, employee, spouse, friend, and leader.

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Today Only: Get 70% Off the Inside-Out Transformational Bundle

The Jesus Life

For one day only, get 70% off the Inside-Out Transformational Bundle! With this bundle, get The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning, Unexplainable: Pursuing a Life Only God Can Make Possible by Don Cousins, and Stephen Smith’s latest book, The Jesus Life: Eight Ways to Recover Authentic Christianity!

The Jesus Life offers eight compelling ways to help us rediscover what it really means to follow Jesus, even amongst the busyness of twenty-first-century life. In today’s guest post by Stephen Smith, he explores the consequences of seeking the life Jesus never offered.

The busy life we’re living—running on empty and spinning and spinning on the proverbial hamster cage—is not the abundant life. To put it simply, the exhausted life is not the abundant life. We’ve lost our idea and notion about what it looks like to live the abundant life that Jesus promised. We’re clueless, and we feel trapped by all our appointments, agendas, and schedules.

In my work with thousands of leaders throughout the world, I’ve discovered that most leaders feel imprisoned by their lifestyles. They feel like they can’t make changes that would help them navigate the whitewater they’re experiencing.

We violate the words of Jesus because we have not understood them. We live in a state of perpetual breathlessness—moving on, hurrying there, and scurrying here. It’s an awful way to live.

In my book, The Jesus Life, I talk a lot about rhythm. I explain that living in rhythm works, while trying to live in balance doesn’t work. Balance is bunk! The word balance can’t be found in the Bible, which means many people are trying to live the life that Jesus never actually offered. He never offered us balance. He offered us rhythm—the key is learning to live our lives in a rhythm that sustains us rather than drains us.

If you’re tired, worn out, and burned out, I highly encourage you to try the ideas I lay out for you. It’s not rocket science, and you don’t have to have a PhD to understand the words of Jesus and his promises. But it does require a paradigm shift in how you look at balance and rhythm.

Here’s to the life Jesus offered us—the life that you and I can foster, nourish, and actually live.

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Today only: get Stephen Smith’s The Jesus Life, along with The Furious Longing of God and Unexplainable, for 70% off with the Inside-Out Transformational Bundle!

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Return to the Vine: How to Confront Spiritual Drought

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John 15:1–17 contains one of the Bible’s most powerful metaphors. Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” Your relationship to the vine affects whether this passage offers you encouragement, a challenge, a warning, or some combination of the three. No matter where you are physically, spiritually, or emotionally, Jesus calls us to remain in him—and by remaining in him, we can bear fruit. So ask yourself: are you remaining?

After years of following Jesus out of duty, nineteenth-century preacher and missionary Andrew Murray discovered the passionate, fruitful life to which Jesus calls his followers. Murray prayed, “May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence.” Murray pursued a life filled by the joy of Jesus, and put missions work at the forefront of his ministry. Thousands of miles from the place where he discovered his faith and far from his home, Murray remained in Jesus.

Running on empty

Murray understood the feeling of being withered. He knew what it was like to feel spiritually empty, emotionally drained, and weary from the troubles of life. In the devotional Abiding in Christ, he responded to the euphoric joy of experiencing God’s provision, “And yet you have had some disappointment. As time went on, your expectations were not always realized. The blessings you once enjoyed were lost; the love and joy of your first meeting with your savior, instead of deepening, have become faint and weak. And you have often wondered why, with such a mighty and loving savior, your experience of salvation was not a fuller one.”

Maybe you used to read the Word more. Maybe you used to pray more. Maybe you’ve stopped going to church, or meeting with a friend to talk about what Jesus has been teaching you. Murray writes that when we experience this spiritual dryness, “The answer is very simple. You wandered from him. The blessings he bestows are all connected with his ‘Come to me,’ and are only to be enjoyed in close fellowship with him. You either did not fully understand, or did not rightly remember, that the call meant ‘Come to me and remain with me.’”

Refuel your spirit

Murray sought to live every moment for Christ, and to continually find the joy that comes with abiding in him. In the midst of this, Murray wrote over 240 books and treatises. He poured out his passionate pursuit of Jesus in his prolific writing, encouraging you to answer Jesus’ call to “come” and “abide.”

If you’re experiencing spiritual drought, Jesus is still there for you—he wants you to remain in him as he remains in you. There are so many resources out there that help us remain in the vine. Scripture and prayer are crucial, but when you’re in a season of drought, sometimes those spiritual elements can feel dry, too. Sometimes it takes a little inspiration from another imperfect human to point you back to the perfection of Jesus and to remember that apart from the vine, us branches shrivel, and our fruit dries up.

To learn more about abiding in Christ, and to find the encouragement to remain in him, I highly recommend Andrew Murray’s daily devotional, Abiding in Christ, as well as Teach Me to Pray. Explore all of Murray’s powerful titles on Vyrso today.

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Winning the War against Depression and Anxiety: An Interview with Perry Noble

Perry Noble

Today’s interview is with Perry Noble, founder and senior pastor of NewSpring Church, a multicampus church whose mission is to reach 100,000 people in South Carolina with the gospel. Noble’s first book, Unleash! Breaking Free from Normalcy was a New York Times bestseller. His second book, Overwhelmed? Winning the War against Worry, gives a candid account of Noble’s personal struggle with depression, and offers key insights into unlocking the chains of anxiety and despair, and living a joyful life focused on Christ.

1. In just 12 years, your congregation has grown to more than 30,000 people—what makes your church unique?

Honestly, this is a really hard question to answer. Our average attendance is 32,500 people, and we don’t believe there’s one specific thing that’s been the driving force in our growth. We believe God is working through people who work in our church. We can’t say it’s just all God because that implies that God is absent in other churches who aren’t growing like we are, and we don’t believe that’s true at all.

When we started NewSpring, we wanted a church where we could be excited about inviting our friends and family, and they would feel comfortable coming. Now 14 years later, we’re still focused on getting people excited about inviting friends and family to church, and we have a vision to reach 100,000 people for Jesus across the state of South Carolina.

2. On your blog, you never shy away from voicing your opinions on controversial subjects, like affairs within the church, treatment of homosexuals, and oft-ignored sexual sin. How do you stay motivated to continue sharing your concerns when there are so many outlets for critics to tear you down?

I honestly think one of the biggest problems in the church today is that it’s obsessed with answering questions no one is asking. Most people just aren’t struggling with understanding deep theological issues, and because of that we want to engage people like Jesus did—meeting them where they are and bringing them to where they need to be in a relationship with him.

People will always get offended—it’s inevitable. The question we have to ask is: would we rather offend religious people or lost people? When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, he offended the religious people at the same time he healed a lost person. I will take that trade any day of the week!

3. You started preaching about your personal struggle with depression about two years ago—what was your congregation’s reaction?

I was overwhelmed (in an awesome way) with an amazing amount of encouragement and support by my church when I shared my struggle with depression. Through sharing my experiences, I also realized this was something a lot of other people were dealing with. We did a series in 2012 called Overwhelmed, and it was by far one of our most viewed series online.

4. You’ve said Americans are “the richest and most depressed people in the world”—why do you think that is?

I think people are searching for fulfillment and meaning through their own efforts—jobs, money, cars, kids, hobbies—whatever the next big thing might be. The reality, though, is we’ll only be truly fulfilled when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. So often, when people struggle with depression, their knee-jerk reaction is to get medicated—what are your thoughts on this?

I think if someone is legitimately struggling with depression they need to ask for help immediately. For so long, I thought I should be able to pray away how I was feeling or snap out of it and if I did tell anyone what was going on, they would think I was a bad Christian or didn’t really love Jesus. That’s just not true and only by speaking up and asking for help was I able to see this. I don’t think anything is wrong with medication if it’s something a doctor recommends. If you needed medicine to fix your heart you would take that, so why wouldn’t you take medicine to help fix your brain?

6. So many Christians are feeling weighed down by depression and stress—what can the church do differently to help people?

Depression is a very real issue and it has impacted everyone—either it’s happened to us or someone we know. I think the church needs to talk about this issue and help people understand what the Bible says about overcoming fear, anxiety, and stress. The church should be a place where people meet Jesus, find hope, and have the courage to ask for help!

7. You’ve said, “Four of the godliest people in the Bible struggled with depression.” Why is it that churches don’t address this more often?

Depression is dark and lonely, and there is a misconception that Christians shouldn’t struggle with depression; if you love Jesus, you should just be able to pray it away. But that’s just not true!

Many times, if things are messy, the church doesn’t want to talk about it.

8. How can we use pain for our benefit?

In most cases, people will identify with your pain more than they will your success. Sharing stories of your past and where God has brought you from could help someone take the next step with Jesus. If God can use my pain for someone else’s progress, then I want him to use it!

9. What’s the number-one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

My hope is that this book brings people to a place of victory where they are hopeful, not despairing; peaceful, not anxious; and free, not overwhelmed! Depression, anxiety, and fear are very real struggles, however, in Christ we can overcome it! I am living proof that it is possible to overcome being overwhelmed.

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Stop being held back by life’s everyday struggles, and learn to overcome stress and anxiety. Get Perry Noble’s new book, Overwhelmed? Winning the War against Worry, and discover how to live a joy-filled life that’s free of depression and focused on God.

 

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Get 32 Titles for 99¢ Each!

Shepherd Press Image--26 titles

To kick off our new partnership with Shepherd Press, we’re offering 32 of their books for just 99¢ each! Choose from books by top Christian authors, including Paul David Tripp, Rick Horne, John Crotts, Tedd Tripp, and Dave Harvey. These titles run the gamut from parenting resources to devotionals to books on loving the church.

 

For a limited time, download all 32 titles for just $31.68!

Hurry—this deal only lasts through April 14. Save on powerful resources and apply them to your life: shop all Shepherd Press titles today!

Here are just a few of the books you can choose from:

Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp
Provide solid instruction and guidance for your child so they can confidently answer fundamental questions like, “Who am I?” “How can I find happiness?” and “Why do I exist?” It’s the parents’ job to provide children with a consistent, biblical framework for understanding the world and their place in it. This book guides you through being a strong source of wisdom and love for your child so they can grow into the faithful person God designed them to be.

Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally About God with Your Children by John Younts
Learn to use ordinary conversations to show your kids God’s goodness and wisdom. With clear biblical teaching, John Younts illustrates how to lead your children into a greater awareness of the presence and glory of God.

Get Offa My Case! Godly Parenting of an Angry Teen by Rick Horne
There is no silver bullet that will transform an angry teen into a respectful, responsible young adult. However, there is a God who can transform us, the way we parent, and the atmosphere we allow to develop in our home. This book teaches parents to pursue and be satisfied with God’s glory, which in turn allows them to seek change in their teenager’s heart. Rick Horne shows parents how to reestablish godly family leadership and find the joy of the Lord–even if their teen doesn’t change.

Loving the Church: God’s People Flourishing in God’s Family by John Crotts
One of the most important relationships for all Christians is their involvement in God’s family. Loving the Church lays the vital foundation for applying his glorious plan to our lives. Pastor Tony Carter says, “This book reminds us that there is no greater joy on earth than to be in God’s family, the church.”

Lost in the Middle: MidLife and the Grace of God by Paul David Tripp
You do not have to be paralyzed by regret, defeated by age, and discouraged by the passing of your dreams. This middle period of life, which can seem like the end of many things, can actually welcome you to a brand-new way of living. Paul David Tripp shows you how the Bible can address any of life’s experiences—because it was written by the one who made them all.

When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey
C.J. Mahaney says, “Dave Harvey not only offers a biblical diagnosis of marital strife, but prescribes the cure as well—the gospel.” Jerry Bridges says, “This book will be helpful for any married couple whether they’ve been married five weeks or fifty years.”

Guiltless Living: Confessions of a Serial Sinner Captured by the Grace of God by Ginger Hubbard
Removing her “good Christian” mask, Ginger Hubbard opens the dark chapters of her heart in order to share about the glorious grace of God toward repentant sinners. Get ready to laugh. Get ready to cry. Get ready for a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.

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These aren’t all of the titles! There are over a dozen more books you can add to your library for just 99¢ each! Download all 32 titles for just $31.68 or shop individual titles. This deal won’t last long, so take advantage of huge savings today!

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A Dinner Party with Lazarus, Mary, and Judas: What Role Would You Play?

Dinner PartyToday’s guest post is by Gregg Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church since 2004. Prior to that, he served as the founder, speaker, and director of Breakaway Ministries at Texas A&M University. What started as a Bible study with 12 participants in his apartment grew to a weekly gathering of more than 4,000 students each Tuesday night. Download his powerful book, Finding God’s Will: Seek Him, Know Him, Take the Next Step on Vyrso today!

Imagine showing up to a dinner party with John 12:1–8’s guest list: Lazarus, the one listed in the obituary column; Martha, the hospitality guru; Mary, the worshipper; Judas, the scoundrel; and Jesus, the son of God. You pull up a chair and sit down, just listening to the conversation trying to throw in a story or interesting fact when the chance presents itself. Martha has made sure everyone is comfortable, but she isn’t going overboard like before when Jesus reminded her to enjoy him and not frantically pick up the house. This time, serving is still her gift, but Jesus is her focus. The food is good, the home warm, but what is that lovely smell? Hot apple pie? No, it hasn’t been invented yet. A Glade PlugIn? Still a few centuries away from that too. Ah perfume—beautiful, costly perfume.

As you turn around, there is Mary at her favorite place, Jesus’ feet, anointing his feet, wiping them dry with, of all things, her hair. Her love has blossomed so brightly that others’ opinions, poor finances, and having a bad hair day dim in comparison. Conversely, Judas stands in the wings questioning and stealing. His question seemed valid, “What about the poor?” At first glance he appears to be taking this issue to a higher plane. But the “spiritualizing” of it actually was a thin veneer of a selfish heart. Isn’t that exactly how Satan deceives? He doesn’t come with horns and a pitchfork, but as an angel of light; the misdirection sounds correct and even appears to be biblical, but the true target is missed by a country mile.

As I read this passage, I was struck with a couple thoughts:

1. What perfume do I possess that should be poured at the feet of Jesus? The words that popped in my mind were time, faith, fear, trust, money, and hope. What are they for you? Our deepest desire as Christians isn’t sin or the toys of the world, but to pour ourselves at his feet. The intimacy of that love is unimaginable and, truthfully, seldom experienced in our lives. But such joy comes in pouring out. Martha poured out service, Mary the aroma of love, Jesus his blood, Lazarus a new appreciation for life, Judas deception, and you and me with ______. (I’m not sure yet either. But I’m listening for his requests and staying at his feet.)

2. No cost is too great. She poured out the best and the costliest. It seemed crazy to “waste” such a perfume, but isn’t the essence of love to be a bit crazy? Deep, grateful love has a hint of craziness to it. It throws caution to the wind while taking responsibility to heart, and goes for broke. That we would love Christ with such a heart. We live cautiously with God, keeping him safely at arm’s length, and choosing our ambiguous guesses over his sovereign plan. Mary visibly showed the true aroma of her heart’s love for Jesus as she poured the perfume. Then the room was filled with a lovely new smell that gave testimony of the Messiah’s feet and Mary’s faith.

What a dinner party! What a guest list! What an aroma! What a savior!

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” —Romans 10:15

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Discover how to find God’s will and better serve him: get Gregg Matte’s Finding God’s Will on Vyrso today!

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