Category Archives: Bible

Divine Makeover- Author Interview and Book Giveaway

 

DiVineblogtour_3
Into a teen girl’s world ruled by selfies, and the illusive self-worth tied to them, comes Sharla Fritz’s Divine Makeover.

This is not a stuffy book that ignores or condemns the desire for acceptance through physical appearance and fashion, but rather puts that into perspective with the source of real beauty: a faith in Jesus Christ that makes us holy.

DiVineblogtour_2This fun and reflective Bible study can be read alone, with a best friend, or with a group of friends.

Would you like to win a copy? Read the  Q&A with author Sharla Fritz and leave a comment below by midnight Thursday, April 24 (2014).

Everyone who comments will be added to the drawing. (Winner will be announced Friday, April 25th!)

 

Why did God prompt you to write this book?

After my first Bible study, Divine Design, came out, I heard about some groups of mothers and daughters doing the book together. It was so exciting that women of all ages could come together and discover their true beauty in Christ. But I thought young women would enjoy having a book that taught the same principles while using examples of their own struggles. So I wrote Divine Makeover—essentially Divine Design for a younger generation.

What struggles do you see the younger generation having?

I remember as a teen thinking that no one would ever think I was beautiful, no one would ever love me. Almost all of us go through an awkward stage where we doubt our beauty and worth. (Some of us never outgrow that stage!)

Plus, in this age, the emphasis on physical beauty is greater than ever before. Celebrities are scrutinized for their hair styles, makeup, and clothing choices. Ordinary girls are slammed when they don’t wear the coolest brands. Every year hundreds of thousands of teens are so dissatisfied with their looks that they resort to plastic surgery.

I’m hoping that Divine Makeover will help young women discover their worth not in what clothes they are wearing on the outside, but on the clothing of their character.

How did you get the young women’s point of view for this book?

Admittedly, I am a long way from the teen years! So I met with some amazing teens at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Illinois every week. They candidly shared their views and struggles. I was truly impressed with this group of young women who clearly loved the Lord. Their faith and commitment to serve was very inspiring. Some of their words and stories are included in the book.

You talk about some myths of modesty? What are they?

I think three modern myths of modesty are: Modesty is old-fashioned, modesty means wearing a burlap bag, and modesty means following a strict set of clothing rules.

Modesty is an enduring principle because the Bible tells us that “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (1Timothy 2:9). Because God’s Word never goes out of style, this advice is not just for women of Timothy’s day, but for us too.

We might think that if we dress modestly we can’t be stylish, but that isn’t necessarily true. It may mean that we have to adapt styles: wearing a camisole under a too-low top, adding leggings to a dress that’s a bit too short, or wearing a cute jacket or sweater over a top that’s too form-fitting.

I have seen sites and books that give strict rules for lengths of skirts and depths of necklines. But I think rules sometimes beg to be broken, so I think a better way to view modesty is as a way to dress with respect: respect for the beauty God gave you, respect for God’s Word, and respect for the gift of sexuality—which God has reserved for marriage.

What are some of the other topics discussed?

Divine Makeover is a “What Not to Wear” for the soul. It talks about hanging up the uniform and letting go of your inner control freak. It encourages young women to get rid of the handbag of worry and live with an attitude of trust. It tosses out the prom dress of pride, the boots of selfishness, the bitterness sweater, and anything the color of envy green. Instead, in Christ we can wear humility, love, forgiveness, and contentment.

You include some dramatic stories of teens who struggled with their self-image. Tell us about them.

Yes. Some young women graciously shared their stories with me. One young woman battled anorexia for a time in her life. When she looked in the mirror, she saw herself as fat, even though she definitely wasn’t. She bravely shared her story of how she eventually discovered that she had become obsessed with food and a totally skewed view of her body. Eventually she learned to choose to see herself as God saw her—His much-loved daughter.

Another young woman discovered she had alopecia. She lost all of her hair. In this society that worships thick, long manes of hair, she struggled to see herself as beautiful. She doubted that any man would ever love her. She has never regained her hair, but she has regained a healthy self-image because of her trust in God.

Both of these women are now in their twenties and happily married.

What practical tips do you share with readers?

The book concentrates on our inner beauty, but does have some fashion fun. Every chapter ends with some Fashion Finesse: a few words about finding the right clothes, building a wardrobe, and looking your best. Some of the practical tips include choosing a cute yet useful purse, finding your best colors, and discovering the best style of sweater for your shape. After the chapter on the prom dress of pride, I included seven tips for a fabulous formal.

What one thing should potential readers know about this book?

I pray that every girl who reads this book will take away one important truth: that in Christ she is beautiful. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we always look lovely in God’s looking glass. Our heavenly Father sees us not as we are, with our mammoth mistakes, our messy sins, our major bedhead. He sees us as we will be—perfect. The Bible tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Tell everyone a little more about yourself.

I’m a Christian speaker and author who loves to communicate the truth of God’s transforming grace. I love meeting women around the country at retreats and conferences.

I live in the Chicago suburbs with my husband, who is the pastor of Hope Lutheran Church. Together we shared the adventure of homeschooling for 15 years with our two children. They are all grown up now and moved away from home. My daughter moved far from home—she now lives in China!

In my other life I am a church musician and piano teacher. I love traveling (especially to China!), going out to lunch with friends, and reading. If I’m not sitting at the piano or my computer you might find me at the thrift store stalking fabulous fashion finds.

Anything else you’d like to share about this book?

Divine Makeover has eight chapters with each chapter having five days of devotions and Bible study questions. A girl could read it on her own, with or without doing the questions. But it would be even more fun to do with a group of gabby girlfriends!

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Don’t forget to leave a comment before midnight Thursday, April 24 (2014) for a chance to win a FREE copy of Divine Makeover. Winner to be announced Friday, April 25th.

Also, for a chance to win a Divine Makeover basket, visit the Sharla Fritz Divine Makeover Blog Tour page on Facebook and share your makeover story. Winners of that basket will be announced there on Facebook on May 2.

How Do You Pray?

Chess-king

I asked a wise lady, a widowed veteran missionary, a question.  Her answer took me by surprise.

We were sitting, enjoying iced tea, and catching up on each other’s lives when I asked about her kids and grandkids. What followed was an account of pain and difficulty. My heart broke as I listened to the ongoing drama of what some may consider a parents/grandparents worst nightmare. And she no longer had her husband to walk this trail of tears with her.

Knowing her to be a praying woman, I wanted the inside scoop of how such a woman of faith talks to God about this

With solemn sincerity, I asked, “So, how do you pray for your grandchildren?”

I expected to hear the chess-game-strategy prayer: “God I pray you move this person to this spot, get rid of that player, surprise attack another, then corner the enemy with a final check-mate so we win. Amen.” After all, isn’t that how most of us pray? We call the moves that we believe will win us the outcome of healing and wholeness in broken situations.

What I heard, instead, as she fixed her eyes upon me and said with a confidence born  of trials, was, “I pray that they would love the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength; that they would love their neighbor as themselves, and that they would fear God and keep his commands.”

The lump in my throat held me momentarily silent as I pondered the radical perspective she had – radical, but right on. Another needed reminder of the greatest power available to us in prayer: God’s Word, the Truth that supersedes.

With that prayer, she not only embodied the whole of scripture (Matt. 22:37-40*) but also applied the wise preachers words, that everything in life is meaningless except fearing God and keeping what He commanded (Ecclesiastes 12:13**).

With that prayer, she went straight to the eternal, the critical. For what shall it profit our loved ones to have everything work out in this world, and in the end lose their soul?

Is it wrong then to pray for specifics, for things to be worked out in our favor? Not necessarily. God in His infinite kindness, goodness, and mercy has indeed answered many such prayers for us, and I assume for you as well.  However, when my prayers are born with God’s Word at the core, the chaff prayers are blown away and a sense of praying God’s will, which is perfect and lasting, comes into focus.

It’s been some time since this wise woman and I have spoken in person, yet her example speaks to me daily. I pray it does you as well.

*Matthew 22:37-40 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And h a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend k all the Law and the Prophets.” ESV

**Ecclesiastes 12:13 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” ESV

photo credit http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Chess-king.JPG

Advent – Coming of a Savior and Judge

Deck the halls, clean our hearts. Tis the season to be jolly, ready for Christ’s second coming.

acToday is the first Sunday of advent, the season shared for both the longing for the celebration of the birth of Messiah, and for the preparedness of Messiah’s second coming.

Plans, budgets, shopping lists, decorations, parties, and numerous other preparations are under way as we countdown to Christmas.

Are we so prepared for Christ’s second coming? Not myth, nor fairytale, it will become as much reality as his birth, and will be preceded by the rapture of the bride of Christ (I Thessalonians 4:16-18), the ones who confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Christ from the dead. (Romans 10:9).

This season, as I celebrate the birth of the babe who came as Christ the Savior, I will also celebrate the imminent second coming of Christ the Judge.

I invite you to do the same.

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Click image to see blog-hop participants

 

Also, joining with a group of Christian authors to celebrate this advent season by refocusing our holiday selves from busyness and budgets to the deep love of Christ the Savior and Judge, I will be participating in an Advent blog hop series titled “Deeply Loved”, based on author Keri Wyatt Kent’s latest release Deeply Loved – 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus. Stay tuned for upcoming articles, links, and your chance to win free books.

Another great advent resource is Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro. One description offers, “These poetic and poignant meditations will linger with you long after Christmas. Reflection questions and a prayer challenge accompany each week s meditations. A perfect book for individual or group study.”

O come, let us adore Him, our Savior and soon coming King and Judge!

 

Remember, then Hope

Sunrise.

Remember today that God’s mercies go on and on.  They are in constant motion.

Available to the weak, the hurting, the strong, the overcomer, the humble, the proud, the one who suffers and wonders.  His mercies never stop.  Yesterday’s may be gone, but this morning new ones entered with the first light that shone through your window.

Remember, and have hope.

Remember today that God’s compassions always succeed.  They are not outdated or stuffy or fall like dead rose petals.  Yesterday’s were needed and carry over to today, but even so new ones became available with the breaking of the dawn.

Remember, and have hope.

Remember today that God’s faithfulness is huge.  It is nothing like anything or anybody here on earth.  It never changes, because He never changes.

Remember, and have hope.

I did, and I do.

I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope;  Your mercies, O LORD, never cease, for Your compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:21-23

The Cross is Empty

Wooden Christian Cross

The Cross is Empty

So our life would not be.

The Cross was laden with sins

So ours could be forgiven.

The Cross was Christ’s death

So He can be our life.

The Cross wasn’t the end

Only a part of God’s plan

of Resurrection

of Salvation

of Hope

for all.

 

©I.K. Hadinger 2012

 

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Job: Eloquent on Suffering

The book of Job, found in the Bible, is one of my favorites.

It is the most eloquent book written on suffering and hope, friendship and ignorance, creation and God’s character; it is masterpiece literature that gives a sneak peak into the spirit world.

That’s why I chose it to fulfill a writing assignment for a recent course, where I had to retell a true, biblical story that has been meaningful to me, in 500 words or less.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed studying and writing it:

“Job’s Season”

The woman he loved told him to curse God and die.  Three friends accused him of unthinkable sins. His property was destroyed, his crops gone. No morphine was given for his pain—only a broken pot to scratch his diseased skin. And all this as he sat grieving the death of his children.

And you thought you were having a bad day.

“Cursed be the day I was born,” he said. Where was God when he needed him most?  Why was he being punished? He needed answers. Deeply depressed with no hope in sight, he wanted to die.

Ever been there?

Silent for so long, a fourth friend, ticked off at the condemnation the other three had hurled at Job, spoke up. “You may be older, but not wiser! I’ve listened to each one of you, but none have proved Job wrong.”

Then he turned to Job and said, “Remember this: God is just and is greater than man. Stop justifying yourself and start justifying God.  In your suffering, you’ve denied God his omnipotence. Pray, Job. Ask God to forgive you.”

We all need a friend like that.

Then a voice spoke out of a storm, “Be a man and answer Me.” God asks a series of questions that prove His power and understanding much greater than that of Job’s. “Were you there when I made the earth and marked off boundaries for the oceans? Have you ever told the sun to rise? Is it you who speaks to lightning?”

This rhetoric continued at length until God asked a few final questions of Job. “Are you going to keep arguing with me and correcting me?”

This was heavy.

But Job knew God was right and was thankful to finally hear His voice. “I’m nothing God.  I’ve already opened my mouth too many times – I’ll keep my mouth shut and listen.”

You’re the man, Job.

“Now that I’ve gotten your attention,” said God, “There are a few more things I need to clear up. In trying so hard to prove yourself innocent, you came close to condemning me and discounting my justice. Do you really think yourself as strong as me? Job, you can’t even control a hippo, or a whale, or any other of the largest beasts I have created! You must trust me as I rule the universe – and your life, both when you’re blessed and when you suffer.”

Best advise we’ve heard so far.

Then a beautiful thing happened. Job humbled himself and repented. “Oh God! I said some really stupid things; things I was completely ignorant of! I hate myself for that. Please forgive me.”

Ever try that?

God then gave Job a better life than he’d ever had. His body was restored. People came with gifts.  He ended up with a fortune in livestock and gold.  Seven sons and three gorgeous daughters were born to him and he lived long enough to see his great-great-grandchildren.

End of story.

Except for the beginning. But that’s for another day.

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I dusted this article off and re-posted it since I’m pondering the “another day” beginning to the story. In case you don’t know it, read Job chapter one. It’s loaded.

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©I.K. Hadinger 2011

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Enriched

Ninety days, sixty-six books, three dozen friends, five countries, three languages.

And oodles of sticky-notes.

I feel…richer.

It was an impromptu decision at the end of May that made me schedule an “event” on Facebook called the “90 Day Bible Challenge”, where we would read the Bible cover to cover in 90 days, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation.

I mentioned it here as the 90 Day Plunge, with “plunge” being the operative word!

This was not an original idea. My attention was grabbed when my brother shared with me his experience of having completed the challenge with men from a Bible study. (The 90 Day Challenge is a well-marketed program and a tool many are using in churches and small groups).

I posted the challenge-event and we (FB friends from Latin America, the USA, Europe, Asia and I), began June 1st. Being the end of August today, the 90 days is completed.

I would love to hear how my friends did (perhaps some are still working on it?), but as it is with Facebook Events, when it ends, the event page vanishes. I’m hoping some will write me, or leave a comment here. (hint hint).

To keep up with the daily reading, on which I occassionally fell behind and then had to buckle down to catch up, the time required was between 45 min. to an hour.

Who has time for that?

We all do…if we make time for it. One friend said,

All I’m reading is the Bible; I haven’t had time to read anything else.

That isn’t so bad. And she didn’t say it to complain, either.

It only takes substituting FarmVille, or American Idol, or Facebook surfing with Bible reading, and wa-la!, it’s done.

Naturally, we all have days that are abnormal and no matter what we do, the clock ticks faster than we can keep up. Yet the truth remains that we give ourselves to things that are simply time-wasters – things in which we invest ourselves for no return whatsoever.

 

In my case, I would take advantage of my fairly predictable habit of waking between 4:30 and 5 a.m. to listen to a narrated audio version of the Bible. I would have a pen, sticky-note pad, and my Bible on my lap. This replaced my normal 20 min. devo.

Except when we traveled; then I would pop the CD in and we would all listen. And yes, I carried either my stickies or a small notebook with me.

As I listened, I would jot down thoughts, truths, or ideas that jumped out at me, either as a nugget of truth for the day, needed insight, something to chew on, or fodder for teaching/writing.

I experienced, once again, that the Bible is alive! Daily it was, and is, at work in my mind, heart, soul.

It is the Creator of the universe himself speaking, sometimes with a whispered word of encouragement to soothe the spirit, other times with a trumpeting of profound truth to rattle dispassion, but always with a love that results in His highest praise…and if we allow Him, a life that increasingly reflects His image.

I can’t think of anything richer than that. Can you?

The 90 days is over, but my time seeking treasure from God’s word continues.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

 Isaiah 40:8

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 Hebrews 4:12

 

 

 

 

Working with Empty

 

Recently, the ink ran out of my fountain pen as I was writing. “No! Not now!” I chided.  A stream of good thoughts and reflections had to be written lest I forget them. (Being over forty, forgetting comes much easier to me now.)

The ink, however, continued it’s sporadic offering until I found myself scratching the paper instead of writing on it. The ink supply had been exhausted. No matter how I shook it, I was working with empty.

I stopped what I was doing. The source of the flow had to be renewed. It didn’t matter how important or urgent my notes were, when the ink ran out I was forced to take a break. I had to get up and go to the place where the extra cartridges are kept. I opened the drawer and took out a new ink cartridge. I unscrewed the pen, took out the empty cartridge and replaced it with a full one.

Then I waited. It takes time for the ink to flow through the feed, the intricate collector and into the nib. Finally, with the supply refreshed, the pen was again useful and I was able to continue what I had been doing.

The analogy didn’t take long to hit me: how often do I work on empty? When I do, do I realize I’m only scratching and not really making a mark?

God’s spirit feeding mine is the source of my strength. When I neglect my time with Him—often because I’m doing much for others in His name—the source runs dry.

God gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak…those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength. (Isaiah 40:31)

You who seek God, let your heart revive. (Psalm 68:32)

Before I end up working on empty, I need to stop what I’m doing, go to the place where I keep my Bible, open it, and meditate on it’s laws and precepts. Then as I wait on the Lord in prayer, His spirit begins to flow in and through my heart, mind, and soul. With my supply refreshed, I become useful again.

The Wrong Bus

Over the weekend, my daughter and I went to the zocalo (downtown Oaxaca City). When hubby’s out of town with the car, like this past weekend, we take public transportation – crowded buses with fringed velour, crucifixes, graffiti, and loud ranchero music.

When we were ready to head home, my daughter and I got on the wrong bus. We ended up on the other side of the city, far from home. How? One reason was because I only read some of the destination signs and not all.

Here the buses list half a dozen or more locations on its front windshield to where it makes stops. The main destination is in the largest letters at the top. And that is what I ignored. I simply looked at some of it’s stops, recognized a few I had been looking for, and hopped aboard.

During forty minutes of stop and go in heavy traffic, I noticed that the driver hadn’t made turns where I expected he would. I patiently told myself this must be a longer route, and sooner or later we’ll end up at the stops listed on his window. Then he kept turning and moving farther away as the passengers dwindled to only five of us. Finally, when we crossed a river that headed into an area on the other side of the valley, I knew we were way off any sensible route that would eventually take us home.

I walked up and asked him about the stop I had been expecting.

He replied, “I was there a while back, now I’m going home to get a bite to eat.”

Are you kidding me? He deviated from what his windshield indicated. Or so I thought. I should have read the sign on top. He had changed it to indicate the area where he lived, and ignorantly I hopped on board, with my daughter in tow.

We wasted no time in getting off that bus and ultimately made it home, safe and sound.

How like life for so many who are on the ‘wrong bus’, heading far from home – the home that God has provided in heaven.

Perhaps they too read some of the signs on the windshield: Peace, Happiness, Good Works, Religion, Benevolence, Faith. They hop on board failing to read the sign on top, which may display words like Humanism, Christian Science, Islam, Atheism, Mormonism, Religion, etc.

What many don’t realize is that there is only one “bus” that will take them to an eternal home in heaven; it’s the bus with the banner of Jesus Christ. The others may make temporary stops to places that sound right, but in the end the error will be evident. And once the river is crossed, it’s too late to hop off to find the correct way home.

The Bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can go to heaven and see God, except through Him. Neither is there salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven by which to be saved from eternal death.

In other words, there is only one bus that will get people safely home…forever.

In fact, those who, like me, have boarded the “Jesus Bus” have a new home waiting for us in heaven. It’s a promise, one among many! Jesus himself said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you…and I will receive you.”

What about you? Which bus are you on?

I hope and pray that you will hop on board the right bus. There’s no waiting, there’s always room, and your fare has already been paid. All you have to do is believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and confess with your mouth that He is Lord of all.

Then, enjoy the trip to your custom-made home!

Bible references: John 14:6; Acts 4:12; John 14:2; Romans 10:9,10

Forgiveness and Trust

Beauty & Hurt

The other day the Bible School students in Mike’s class were discussing the concept of forgiveness and trust. A belief surfaced that the two are companion terms, meaning that once you forgive, you will trust.

What do you think?

My experiences have been otherwise. I’ve been hurt in the past and have had to forgive, which I have often found to be a process and not merely expended breath with words attached. And even after having forgiven, I don’t automatically trust the one(s) I forgave.

Do you?

A couple personal examples:

1) The robbery: After our house was broken into and many valuable things taken, I had to learn to love the people in this village again through the process of forgiveness. It’s a smaller pueblo and basically everyone knows everyone, and everything. It’s safe to say that most know who robbed us, but naturally will protect their own.

As outsiders, we therefore had to forgive the local people in general. Does that mean we trust them? Do we leave our doors open? Not at all. We have four dogs, lock up our house and gate, taking whatever measures necessary to protect the house when we are gone for any length of time.

2) Then there is the sewing machine incident. This past month, while we were gone for two weeks working on the coast, I asked the lady who works for us to please come to the house each morning to feed the dogs, check on things, then come back in the evening to turn a few lights on, making it appear occupied. She did that. And something else.

She went into the cabinet in my craft room and helped herself to my sewing machine. She doesn’t even know how to use one! In fact, this simple Indian woman knows almost zero about anything mechanical.

When I took it out a few days ago to sew, I noticed that the bobbin door was missing. I found it, hidden, and with some effort, carefully snapped it back in place. It had obviously been taken off forcefully by one unfamiliar with its working.

I was angry, and felt my trust in her betrayed. First of all, because she went snooping! Secondly, because my sewing machine is a treasure to me, a 2008 Mother’s Day gift from my kids and my husband, and as far as I know cannot be serviced here locally, should it break.

I confronted her on it, explaining to her that I was unhappy with what she had done and that she had betrayed the confidence I had put in her. She apologized profusely, gave me the reasons for giving in to her temptations to touch it, then asked me to please forgive her.

I did. (Much easier to do when there is no lasting damage.) I told her I will put this incident behind me, like water that flows downstream. Yet there is a measure of trust lost. I believe that trust can be rebuilt, but only with time and proof – on her part.

Personal experience, although real, should be balanced by the teachings of the Bible. I’ll use here the same example my husband used with his students: Joseph. He related how Joseph had to forgive his brothers – which he did.

So why did he put them through the testings of hidden goblets and keeping a brother behind? Was he toying with them? Was he being malicious? Or was it a way to see if he could now trust them? After all, if they had been capable of leaving a brother for dead then lying to dad about it, could Joseph, as ruler, trust their actions and their word?

Another scriptural factor is salvation. We are forgiven by God the moment we repent of our sins and ask for His forgiveness. But does that mean that God trusts us? Don’t we have to prove our trustworthiness through paths of obedience and faith? “You’ve been faithful with a few things, now I will trust you with more” says Jesus (Matthew 25:21).

That’s my take. What’s yours?