Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Purpose: Women's Retreat Recap

This weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Fort Caswell for the Coastal Women's Retreat.  The theme was Purpose and our theme verse was Ephesians 2:10.


We started with a worship service on Friday night.  Tara Furman from Knowing God Ministries was the featured speaker and Cindy Johnson from Stage2 Ministries led us in music. Then on Saturday we had 3 breakout sessions, followed by another service led by Cindy and Tara that night and another on Sunday morning.

Throughout the entire weekend, I was reminded again and again of God's faithfulness and our call to obedience.  Yes, I realize the weekend was about finding our purpose but it fits- just take a look at the theme verse, "...we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus...which God prepared in advance for us."  God didn't create us to be purposeless, mindless, zombies.  We are created for a purpose and He gives us that purpose. Before we were born, He knew what gifts we needed to fulfill the purpose that He created us for.  God is faithful.

And we see the obedience that is required on our parts in the rest of the verse, "...to do good works...for us to do."  Other than the basic commandments given to all believers, only you and God can truly know what your purpose is.  I thought Tara did a great job of emphasizing the importance of daily quiet time with God and how that is key in hearing from Him what His purpose is for us.  Then once we hear from God we are expected to obey.  And it's sometimes very difficult to do, but if God is so faithful to us, shouldn't we be faithful to Him?

If you have never attended a Women's conference or retreat, I highly recommend going.  If your church is going on one- sign up and go with them.  If they aren't, then maybe you should find one or plan one and advertise it for the women in your church.  We were made for community.  And the best way to be part of the community of believers is to be with them.  Attending church is excellent and necessary, in my opinion, but when you get to go on a trip with your sisters in Christ and see each other without make-up and stay up late playing Bible Outburst or Phase 10 and just talking and laughing, then you really begin to build strong relationships and form strong communities.

See when you have community, your sisters in Christ, who would like nothing more than to get home as quickly as possible to see their husbands and kids, instead back-track 40 minutes so they can make sure you get home after your car gets rear-ended.  And though we didn't call everyone, there is no doubt in my mind that any of the women that had gone with us would have driven back to get us if we'd called them.  That is what being part of the body of Christ is about- loving one another.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35 (NIV)

And that is one of the purposes for which we were created. As for your other purposes, well that's between you and God!


Love in Christ,

Alyson

 



Friday, February 20, 2015

Movie Review: Do You Believe?

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were given the opportunity to screen the Do You Believe? movie.
Photo Source

A bit of background first, this movie was made by the same people who made God's Not Dead that was in theaters last year.  And not that this is a sequel or anything, but the creators wanted to answer the question of okay, God's not dead, now what?  So they created this movie that is following the pattern of several secular movies nowadays, in that it has multiple story lines and not just the one or two main characters.  And from your view you can see how they are all connected- which I personally think is fun.

This movie stars Mira Sorvino (Human Trafficking, Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion), Sean Astin (Rudy, The Goonies, Mom's Night Out, The Lord of the Rings trilogy), Alexa Penavega(Spy Kids movies, Sleepover), Lee Majors, Cybill Shepherd, Ted McGinley- and so many more.


The movie jumps in quickly and basically introduces you to all the main players in the first five minutes.  The story is narrated by the pastor of a local church who is asked the question, do you believe in the cross of Christ, by a homeless man. As the pastor drives away, he begins to really think about this question and it radically changes his life.  He then proceeds to ask the same question of his congregation the next Sunday and he gives them small crosses to take as reminders.  And then we see how people respond to this huge question, Do You Believe?


They gave us crosses like the ones used in the movie.



To say this movie rocked my world would probably be a bit of an understatement.  I laughed and I cried.  And though this movie had all the feels, I still believe it had a strong message and provides an opportunity for lost people to hear the gospel!


Photo Source
But what about those who are already saved?  Well, I was a Christian before I went to see this movie and you may be asking how it rocked my world?  I don't want to give too much of the storyline away but there were several new professions of faith by characters in the movie and there were several characters whose faith was strengthened.  My biggest takeaway from this movie as a believer, is that I need to 1- share my faith with the lost and 2- love people.  I know, two basic concepts I should already be doing but two very important things that I don't do enough and need to do more.


Do You Believe comes out on March 20th.  I encourage you to see if this movie is coming to your city and if it's not then to go to this link and request it.


And when you do go see it (because you really, really should) I encourage you to invite your coworkers and friends and family who aren't saved- or who may not be producing quite the fruit they should be as well as all of your Christian friends!


 Here is the trailer: (If you can't see it below, then you can see it at doyoubelieve.com.)

 


Love in Christ, 


Alyson




Thursday, February 12, 2015

Honor God with Your Choices

In an effort to truly cover my life with you guys, I have a story to share...

On Wednesday, I was driving home from work and needed to get over into the right lane.  I put on my turn signal and the person in the other lane sped up to keep me from getting over.  As she drove past me I gave her a thumbs up and yelled, "Thanks!"

And then I was convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Yep, that's what happens when you ask God to reveal your sins so you can be more like Christ. My first thought was how un-Christ-like my behavior was.  No I didn't give her the middle finger, or yell profanity at her, but the spirit in which I chose to respond was wrong.

My next thought was to Jesus, and it was something like this, "But Jesus, you set such an impossible example to follow!"  And then BAM!  I've heard the phrase, "my life passed before my eyes" and that is exactly what happened, except it wasn't my life it was this blog post that I had just written THIS week!  I had to laugh and then I realized I just had to share with y'all, because I don't write this blog just for you, it's for me as well.

But you know it is true, Jesus is perfect and we will never be perfect, this side of heaven. But we can't use that as an excuse to stop trying.

1 John 2:5-6 says, "But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did."


And on that note, I'm going to share something else with y'all:  There is a movie coming out this weekend entitled, Old Fashioned.  My husband and I saw the trailer for it when we went to a screening of Do You Believe? (which comes out March 20th and I will be reviewing soon. Check out more info about it here.

Old Fashioned is a sweet, wholesome love story. 


A romantic-drama, OLD FASHIONED centers on Clay Walsh, a former frat boy who gives up his reckless carousing and now runs an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town. There, he has become notorious for his lofty and outdated theories on love and romance as well as for his devout belief in God. When Amber Hewson, a free-spirited young woman with a restless soul, drifts into the area and rents the apartment above his shop, she finds herself surprisingly drawn to his strong faith and noble ideas, which are new and intriguing to her. And Clay, though he tries to fight and deny it, simply cannot resist being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life. Ultimately, Clay must step out from behind his relational theories and Amber must overcome her own fears and deep wounds as the two of them, together, attempt the impossible: an "old-fashioned" and God-honoring courtship in contemporary America - See more at: http://www.oldfashionedmovie.com/synopsis#sthash.cIxQflzJ.dpuf
You can use this link to see if it's in a theater near you. 

And you can follow this link to the website to see the trailer.

It's true, there is another movie coming out this weekend as well.  But as Christians, we are called to stand apart and be different than the lost world around us.  Let's choose not only this weekend, but everyday, to honor God with the choices we make.

 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Love in Christ,

Alyson




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Let's Move Past Excuses


I have noticed something lately that really has me concerned.  It's this belief that we don't really have to do the hard things as long as everyone knows and agrees that they are hard to do. Let me explain...

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a speaker who reminded us that as Christians we are to forgive others.  From somewhere around me I heard a muttered, "Well that's easy to say, but much harder to do."

I don't think anyone reading this would deny the truth in that statement.  But the problem I see, is when we rest in that statement instead of acting in the Spirit. 


We have to stop finding people to "join our bandwagon."   "Sorry God, I know you said that we are supposed to forgive others because you have forgiven us...but my friends and I agree that what she did to me was just unforgivable."  Does that sound a bit silly to say to God?  The One who sent his son to DIE so we could be forgiven. (Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-35)


But I don't think that forgiveness is the only thing we do this with.  I think you could take any of God's commands and insert them into this way of thinking- that it's just too hard, so it's okay not to do it. 
And that is a lie.  It's a big fat lie that we tell ourselves and we tell others.  And our only justification is that it's too hard to do, so I won't even try.
On our own, a lot of things are too hard.  But when we become Christians the Holy Spirit comes and resides in us.  The Holy Spirit isn't talked about a lot, but it is the third part of the trinity- part of our triune God.  The power of the Holy Spirit, the very power of God, is within us.  We have to stop with excuses and start walking in the spirit- which is walking according to His word, and striving to look more like Christ.

And shame on us if we are the ones who encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to not follow God's commands.  Instead we should be holding them accountable and gently correcting them...sure they may stop coming around when they realize that the church is being the church and not just allowing them to excuse their way out of living in sin, but that's another one of those hard things we are called to do when we are walking in the Spirit. We are called to be people who "stir up one another to love and good works." (Hebrews 10:24)

Photo Credit
Clare from Peak313 fitness shared this picture on her Instagram the other day, and I thought it was so appropriate to this topic.  Let's stop saying, "I'm Human" (we have all thrown that statement out before to excuse one action or another) and start saying, "I'm Saved."  Let's walk in the Spirit together!



Love in Christ,

Alyson

Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Review: You and Me Forever Marriage in Light of Eternity

Photo Credit
If you are looking for a step-by-step guide for revitalizing your marriage, this book is not for you.

If you are looking for a "how to" book, then this book is not for you.

What this book is, however, is a Christ-centered in-depth look at your life and marriage in light of the gospel.

This book, written and narrated by Francis and Lisa Chan, is a biblically based book that emphasizes the importance of first having a relationship with Christ. Only after that relationship is solidified can your marriage have any hope of being a lasting relationship.  Our first priority in life should be to look like Christ so it stands to reason that we should in turn love like Christ.

The Chans offer real world examples of what it means to love like Christ in your marriage and with your children. (There is even a chapter on parenting.)  At the end of each chapter there are "Do Something" sections, where we, the listeners (readers) are encouraged to act out the Biblical truths we have just digested.  The point being that reading the book and gaining the knowledge is useless unless we are putting this newly gain insight into practice in our every day life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was challenging and encouraging in my walk with Christ, my marriage and also in my parenting.  I listened to this myself, but I strongly encourage couples to listen to (read) this book as a couple and to honestly and prayerfully go through the "Do Something" sections together as I plan on doing with my husband.  And though this is a "marriage" book, I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to strengthen their relationship with Christ and their relationships with others.

I enjoyed the audio of this book and like that Francis and Lisa Chan read the sections they wrote themselves.  You can sense their heart is really in these words they have written as they are reading them.

As with most of Francis Chan's books this book also has a website available (http://www.youandmeforever.org/) that provides a way for you to purchase the book, view a Bible study guide, and view videos about the content of the book.

You can also get your copy of this book from Christian Audio here, Amazon here, or Lifeway here.

* I would like thank christianaudio Reviewer's Program for the audio version of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Share your thoughts below- I'd love to hear from you!

Love in Christ,


Alyson